You can’t improve what you can’t measure

Actually, you can.

Peter Drucker is wrong.

We used to live in a world where measurables were really important.

Henry Ford was famous for saying, “You can have your car in any color you want, as long as it’s black.” Black dried faster than any other color. If we could improve speed, we could improve profits.

This mindset made us all very rich.

But now, that game we signed to play and the promise we were made is broken. Now, the gap between the rich and the poor is growing out of hand. Now, we have a whole generation of students graduating without a promise of a job and a mountain of debt. Now, we are realizing that all this stuff that freed us of poverty hasn’t actually fulfilled us.

There is an alternative: Each and every one of us has the capacity to do what only humans can do—human work. Human work is our ability to care. To show up. To say here I made this and I hope that it changes you. Its emotional labor. Its generosity and respect. It’s seeking equality and opportunity for those who don’t have it.

How can you put a price on looking someone in the eye with total empathy and telling them you are here for them? You can’t. Nor should you.

Let me be clear, measuring is important. Measuring and testing is part of the foundation of science. The thing about profit is that it is easy to measure. If it went up, it must mean we had a good year. I have a hard time with this.

How do you define a good year? Well, if you helped someone make a quantum leap, I think that was a good day. If you helped someone do something they could never do, also a good day. Put enough good days like that together, maybe you had a good year. You can’t measure the impact, not it the short-term at least. It’s easier to point to magical digits and bits than face the fact that we’re on the hook for helping each other.

Each of us has infinite worth and infinite potential. You can’t put a number on that. The world wants to continue to strip our humanity. The sooner we quit putting a numeric value on people and the human work we do, the sooner we can bring it back.