Have a look at these three handguns… (Glock 17s to be precise):
- One is real.
- One fires plastic balls.
- One fires blanks.
Which is which though? Can you tell which is the real one?
Even upon handling them in real life, it would take someone who knows what they’re doing to establish which is which. But then imagine if you had any of the above pointed at you in a dark street. It’s practically impossible to make a snap judgment about which is real in the heat of the moment. I wouldn’t wish that decision on anybody.
That’s because all of these Glocks have the appearance of being the real thing. The same applies to performance management tools. Binary comparisons, league tables and numerical targets look and feel like the real thing, but they’re not. They’re the imitation firearms of the performance world.
Unlike the Glocks however, when someone points a binary comparison at you it’s unlikely that you need to react immediately. Look closer to see if it really is what it appears to be – a credible piece of performance information – and once you’ve identified it fires blanks, simply disregard it in favour of the real thing. (You should know what that is by now!)
Don’t shoot yourself in the foot.