What gets measured gets done is perhaps the most famous aphorism of
performance measurement. Keep in mind, though, that the structure you create
will drive behaviour.

Many years ago, before the advent of handheld and in-car satellite
navigation devices, an innovative company produced a product called “Street
Seraph” (the name has been changed to protect me).

Street Seraph was really just a basic GPS, but it had storage
capabilities, and the company that produced the device used the storage
capabilities to record the latitude/longitude of red light cameras and fixed
speed cameras.

As you can imagine, the RTA wasn’t keen to divulge this information, so
the only way they could accurately record the information was to physically go
to the location of each camera and record the latitude/longitude of the device.

This was way too big a job for the number of employees in the company,
so they created a contract to allow a large number of contractors over a short
period of time to map all of these devices. To encourage the contractors to
work as quickly as possible and deliver outcomes, each contractor was paid $50
for each red light camera and fixed speed camera he or she mapped.

The process worked very well, and information was flowing in from the
contractors, and the Street Seraphs started being sold. It wasn’t long before
the company started receiving complaints, though. Users of the Street Seraph
complained that the alarms were constantly going off even though there was no
red light camera or fixed speed camera to be seen.

The technicians investigated the mapping software and tested again and
again—until they finally found that the problem was very simple. With an offer
of $50 for each camera location submitted, some contractors were simply feeding
in some coordinates where no camera existed! The incentive structure drove the
wrong behaviour! In the end, Street Seraph employed their own staff on salaries
to map all of the cameras accurately.

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