Goodhart’s Law

Network Capital
Never let the goal be conceptualized purely in numeric terms. It is not only reductionist, but it may also lead to unintended consequences. For example, to control and remove snakes in India, the British colonialists started offering money for snake skins. In response to this, Indian natives started breeding snakes and then killing them for the money.

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According to British Anthropologist, Marilyn Strathern, ‘When a measure becomes a goal, it ceases to become a measure.’ By reducing a goal to a mere quantity, we drastically alter its quality. In extreme cases, we also alter the outcome.

Through the different stages of building the Network Capital community, we set multiple goals for ourselves. These goals have always been formulated in a way that bridged the gap between our long-term aspirations and short-terms plans. And till date, we have never adopted simplistic numeric targets. Our goals have typically been formulated by quantifying the quality of our progress. Our target, therefore, is not to reach a given number of new members per month. Instead, we measure progress in terms of the meaningful connections we enable, or the instances in which we add value to someone’s experience. This method of setting goals and tracking progress has helped Network Capital grow in a sustainable yet saleable manner.

The best way to counter the Goodhart’s law is to always be conscious of the consequences setting a particular target. Along with consequences, it is also important to set proper metrics of tracking the progression. Our goals need to be designed and conceptualized in such a way that they lead to real progress.
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