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What Quantum Particles Teach Us About Management…And Dungeons & Dragons

March 10, 2017

It’s a universally accept maxim of performance improvement:

That which is measured, improves

It’s true. . .except when it’s utterly false.

The two paladins rode side by side, their employer a few paces behind. They had assured him that they were LAWFULL-GOOD characters. He apparently didn’t believe them as they were hit with a DETECT ALIGNMENT spell. Of course, the results came back as LAWFULL-GOOD, but the damage was done.

“We cannot work for someone who thinks us liars and breaks trust. You are on your own, Rodney”

“Argg! Now I’ve lost my paladins. Why would you do that?”

My brother was the DM or Dungeon Master. In a game of D&D (Dungeons & Dragons) the DM is basically an omnipotent, omnipresent and all-powerful deity. His word is law and cannot be appealed.

Why did you cast DETECT ALIGHNMENT on them?

I wanted to know if they were really LAWFULL-GOOD or if they were lying.

So, you didn’t trust them.


Then what makes you think they would trust you?

My brother was attempting to teach me a very important lesson. The idea that attempting to prove trust might actually destroy it. It kind of flies in the face of the idea that “What is measured, improves.” Not, when it comes to relationships, it doesn’t. “Prove you love me” is a pretty quick way to destroy a relationship.

Quantum particles are some of the smallest detectable particles in existance. They aren’t actually observable. That’s one of the frustrating aspects of them. A quantum particle both exists and does not exist in a particular point in space. If you don’t look at it, you can assume it exists, and it does. If you attempt to observe it, it disappears.

In the field of quatum physics it is certainly not true that “What gets measured, improves.” In fact, you could say,

What gets measured, disappears

I had an employee, Milan, who didn’t fit our corporate model when it came to timing. His clock and my clock seemed to perpetually be set on different time zones. This was a problem for me, but seemed to be unconcering to Milan. There was no performance issue. He did good work. He met his deadlines. He kept his clients happy. He just did it on his own schedule.

Finally, I decide that I needed to do some “managing” and I started holding Milan to a more strict schedule. I started watching when he came in and went home. I started “measuring him.” In my efforts to turn a good employee into a great one, I nearly destroyed one. The more I “managed” him the less he liked being managed. The less he liked it, the worse his performance got. The worse his performance got, the more I felt I had to manage him.

Milan was a quantum particle. . .or a LAWFULL-GOOD paladin. When I let him focus on results instead of the process, he seemed to always be there. As more I watched for when he was there, the less he wanted to be there.

I wonder if he was interested in physics? Or maybe rollplaying games?

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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