The Measurement Trap

You are not alone in worrying about measurement. China has published new growth targets, which are suspected of being ineffective, and even damaging, for the country’s economy. The reason is that, as every manager knows, targets are a powerful management tool: “setting GDP targets is one means by which [country leaders] believe they can evaluate and control those lower down”. There is no doubt that GDP targets have been a very successful tool, helping carry out a plan that has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. That success is now playing against changing a tool that has outlasted its value. Managers everywhere can take consolation: if it happens to Chinese planners, why wouldn’t it affect your marketing plan?

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