That measure-manage quote myth

I guess I’ve been working long enough to have come across that Deming/Drucker quote being thrown around, AND to have come across some other material saying the quote has been misattributed to those two. I’ve never really taken the time to look into it any further, but this lazy, rainy quarantiney morning has given me some time to google it.

The quote in question is: If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.

And although they may not have said that quote, measurement is still something they had emphasized. Paul Zak (a link to his work is shared below) puts it best: So, measurement, yes. Only measurement, no.


W. Edward Deming’s case

The funny thing is what he actually said was:

It is wrong to suppose that if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it—a costly myth.

Wow, they literally just got what was in the middle, and totally reversed the meaning. He had written this in The New Economics: For Industry, Government, Education.

Peter Drucker’s case

I came across two blog posts sharing he never actually said it.

They both linked to page in the Drucker Institute website, but that had already been moved. But the title was easy to google for, so I was able to find the page to Measurement Myopia written by Paul Zak in Jul 2013.

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