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March 19, 2009

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Mr. Doodles

Gartner results are often solicited by the US Government, CBO, OMB and GAO. However, these results are very labor intensive to produce, with much of that labor being drawn from the organization (US Govt agency, department, Office) being subjected to such review / measurement.

The people doing the work (US Govt employees) have no interest whatsoever in reporting data that will lead to negative results.

The managers of the people doing the work stand to lose their advancement, next raise, position, or to be subject to "reassignment" if the results highlight areas they are accountable for, unfavorably.

The easiest way to derail an SES or GS15 person's career path anywhere in the US Government is to engage them as a central stakeholder in any Gartner study, review, analyses or other measurement of organizational results.

Noticing that Measurement and Office Politics in the US Government are (a) linked and (b) problematic and (c) highly negative is like noticing that the south pole is cold, or that rain is wet.

Fixing it, turning it to a positive, is so burdened with political overhead that even US Presidents, even Senate Committee Chairpersons, even Supreme Court Justices, even House Committee Chairpersons, or any other position of authority or "governing legal body" has utterly and completely failed to do so.

Reading your article, I would respond with the simple question: "What good does it do to engage in measurement studies when the execution of the work to generate the data to be used in the study is known to be one of the top ten most negative actions for which any US Government employee can accept accountability. And given that the level of negative impact to one's career escalates the higher one is in rank in the US Government, this is the classic no-win or lose-lose scenario. And a favorite "ok, I have had it, I am going to fix your wagon permanently mr. organizational maturity enhancement co-worker" poison. Which is to say that the people most often targeted as candidates to engineer their own downfall are the same people who are the strongest advocates for measurement and organizational maturity advancement.

In other words, internal to the US Government, Measurement of Practices in results such as those produced by Gartner, ICF, Forrester Research, IDC, Yankee Group and others, is far too often a lose-lose result.

This is alot worse than measuring the wrong thing. This is when the measurements are wrong, the people doing the measurements are subject to punishment for doing them well including career-ending situations, the people drawing conclusions from the measurements are using invalid data to reach dubious-at-best conclusions, and the most valuable conclusions are so obvious that they were known before the measurement efforts began.

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