Rosabeth Moss Kanter (1983: 22) wrote,
... the aspect of productivity that needs serious attention is not the mechanical output of a production facility; it is, rather, the capacity of the organization to satisfy customer needs most fully with whatever resources it has at its disposal ... But mechanical notions of productivity lead often to products that meet ever more refined minimum standards, frequently resulting in a decline in customer satisfaction with them. The former thrust calls out for innovation - indeed, for innovative thinking on every level of the organization’s affairs - while the latter confines innovation to a marginal and unexciting role
Is there a danger that the existence of minimum standards in professional work is problematic? To what extent do we need mechanical notions of productivity when undertaking professional work? The widespread use of key performance indicators, standards and regulations is clearly a reaction to increasing dissastisfaction with service from all sorts of professionals. But are we in danger of creating a situation that almost guarantees decreasing standards, because we make people accountable for measurable outputs, rather than for the quality of their decision-making?
Kanter, R.M. (1983) The change masters. New York: Simon & Schuster.