I’m not the only one that thinks this


Kenny and Davies have described a broader manifestation of this obsessive, verificationist pattern of thinking that is endemic in UK public services.

“The syndrome is called probophilia. Its key performance indicator is mis-measurement done to assuage the system’s pathological need for verification.

“The probophile places false confidence in numbers, and uses these as his focus for justification of activity, whilst losing sight of what the organisation is actually set up to deliver.  The sufferer is either oblivious to his affliction, or if aware falls into learned helplessness and just does what the organisation demands (and sometimes cynically pockets the cash). As economists predict, even irrational men and women will ultimately align themselves with the prevailing economic incentives.”

These authors note the requirements for,

“…a mixture of certain internal character traits in the probophile, coupled with an environment that encourages expression of these flaws….

“The most fertile soil for probophilia is a large organisation (whether public or private) in which the focus over time has shifted from what it is supposed to be delivering, to a series of proxy measurements that may or may not be accurate representations of what the organisation should be doing.” (Emphasis in original.)

Kenny A, Davies P.  Probophilia – a disease of our time.

More widespread recognition of the resonance between personal and organisational dysfunction would be greatly helpful.

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