External IT Metrics — Calling Your Own Lines vs. The Hawk-Eye
For you Tennis fans out there, which I know are few and far between these days, I’ve got a question for you. What’s the most exciting technological development that you can think of in the past 30 years to hit the tournaments? I don’t know about you, but for me, it’s the Hawk-eye. What’s that?
Hawk-Eye is a complex computer system used officially in numerous sports such as cricket, tennis, Gaelic football, hurling and association football, to visually track the trajectory of the ball and display a record of its statistically most likely path as a moving image.
Hawk-Eye was developed in the United Kingdom by Dr. Paul Hawkins. The system was originally implemented in 2001 for television purposes in cricket. The system works via six (sometimes seven) high-performance cameras, normally positioned on the underside of the stadium roof, which track the ball from different angles. The video from the six cameras is then triangulated and combined to create a three-dimensional representation of the trajectory of the ball. Hawk-Eye is not infallible and is accurate to within 5 millimeters (0.19 inch) but is generally trusted as an impartial second opinion in sports.
One of the most frustrating things when you’re playing recreational tennis, or even part of an organized team, is the variation in line calls. You could have just hit the best shot of your life, but someone called it out. Or, you could have hit a shot that was just barely out, but it was called in. Either way it just messes up your game. So, while I would love to be able to have a line judge… or better yet… a computerized line caller, I just don’t see it happening any time soon.
In any case, for me, the Hawk-eye makes the game far more fair and exciting. Does it slow the game down? Well, let me ask you this, did John McEnroe slow the game down with all of his whining and complaining about blown calls by the line judges? This is a question for our age, but I call the Hawk-eye a win. It’s good to know that you’ve really and truly hit the shot in or out. There’s no grumbling after the match about missed calls, or resentment that builds up in the game that leads to emotional mis-hits. The Hawk-eye is external, unbiased and an expert in 1 function.
Now, let’s get on to the topic of IT Metrics for a bit. Let’s begin with some of the big questions:
– Do people in your IT organization (including you) think that performance is objectively measured?
– Is there a clear path to becoming #1 in the IT organization in the hard skills disciplines?
– Do you think that Managed Service Providers are biased when it comes to contractual reporting around Service Level Agreements with penalties?
– Do you think that it’s possible to misuse metrics to someone’s advantage?
– If you write your own BI solution internally, who decides which metrics become Key Performance Indicators? And how they are calculated?
– Do you think that MBO (Management by Objectives) that carry bonuses or penalties might open up an opportunity for manipulation?
Ok, ok, those questions are clearly leading and becoming more rhetorical. We all know the answers to these questions. One doesn’t have to be Machiavellian to know how things can go wrong with biased information that is subject to manipulation. And, of course, the ramifications can be severe for an organization.
We would just like to propose that you take an opportunity to reflect on these questions and unleash the McEnroe-like potential of your employees to the benefit of morale, positive organizational change and performance by considering the benefits of externality.
You might find that your John McEnroe starts acting more like a Novak Djokovic!