Wrath, also known as anger or “rage”, is the inordinate and uncontrolled feelings of hatred and anger.  I suspect that you conjure a picture of someone striking out in an uncontrolled manner with potentially catastrophic results.  When viewed through the lens of measurement, wrath reflects use of measurement data in a negative or self-destructive manner rather then an act of wrathful measurement. Very few people are moved to measure by wrath, rather they are moved by wrath to use measurement badly.

Wrath causes people to act in a manner that might not be in their or in the organization’s best interest. Both scenarios are bad.  How are issues of wrath reflected in behavior? Wrath can cause situational blindness in which the best course of action is not recognized or taken. Secondly, data and the information (good or bad) derived from that data can used as a weapon in a manner that destroys the credibility of the program and the measurement practitioners.

Anger impairs one’s ability to process information and to exert cognitive control over their behavior. An angry person may lose his/her objectivity, empathy, prudence or thoughtfulness and may cause harm to others. Actions driven by extreme anger is easily recognized by observers, but rarely by those perpetrating the behavior. This is an example of being blind with rage.  Protect your measurement program and your career by staying in control. When confronted with scenarios that induce severe anger you need to learn how to step back and see the whole situation. Teaching yourself to always see things as they really are will help your realize instantly the truth of the harm that you are causing to yourself and others through anger and rage.  One way to address rage is through meditation techniques, such as Vipassana, which is one of India’s most ancient techniques of meditation. It teaches you to see things as they really are and to liberate oneself from this mad habit of reacting with anger. No one said that measurement could not be mystical. Control puts you in a position to react in a more rational manner.

Measurement data and the information derived from that data deliver the ability to understand why things happen: why a project is late, why a project costs what it does or even why a specific level of quality was achieved.  Measurement is a tool to take action to improve how work is done.  What it should not be is a weapon of indiscriminate destruction. Acting in a rage changes all of that. When you strike out in an uncontrolled manner you have transformed that data into a weapon with very little guidance. Think of the difference between the indiscriminate nature of a land mine and the precision of phasers of the Star Ship Enterprise. Wrath turns a potentially valuable tool into something far less reliable. The problems occur when knowledge is used incorrectly or unethically. For example, a purposeful misrepresentation of the meaning of data. Other examples include errors of omissions (leaving out salient facts) or inclusion (including irrelevant data that changes the conclusions drawn from the data).  Whether omission or inclusion, poor use of data erodes the value of the measurement program though politicization or placing doubt into people’s minds. Remember that all analysis requires interpretation, however the interpretations are generally based on a theory of consistent behavior.That includes your behavior. Analysis based on an obviously false assumptions just to make a point does no one any good in the long run.  For example, assuming productivity is constant across all sized of projects so that you can show that a project under-performed to get back at someone will destroy your credibility even if you win the argument.  Be true to the data or be the point of a failure in trust.

Do not confuse passion and rage; they are not the same. You must have passion to be effective but what you can’t do, is to lose control of your emotions to the point that you stop thinking before you act. The deadly sin of wrath is a sin that reflection of bad behavior, whether is your behavior or whether you are a tool for another, if you let wrath affect your behavior you will begin a spiral that ends with a failure of trust.

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