If You Measure It, It Will Come
This SNL Skit is not nearly as funny (and not nearly as infuriating) as the real story behind Wells Fargo's fraudulent account scandal . . . Planet Money offers a synopsis that will not only make you indignant, but also make you laugh at the absurdity of Wells Fargo corporate culture, and be prepared for reality to nearly triple hyperbole-- the Wells Fargo huckster in the SNL skit tries to get everyone to sign up for three accounts, but the actual slogan pushed by the executives was "eight is great," and so the bank burned through its young employees, forcing them to call everyone they knew: friends, family, acquaintances, in order to create as many accounts per person as possible--and demonstrate to the shareholders that Wells Fargo was robust and growing-- and I've often mentioned Campbell's Law here, which insured that these underpaid, harried employees eventually started cheating to make their quotas-- and then, of course, the executives labeled them as "bad apples" instead of apologizing for the culture they created . . . there's a lovely moment in the podcast when a district manager urges the young bankers to continue cold calling customers during a botched bank robbery, even while the cops are swarming the lobby and place reeks of shit because the robber crapped his pants . . . and, of course, I'd be negligent to mention the fact that the same thing is going on in schools right now-- we're all "accountable" because we administer common assessments that must correspond to Student Growth Objectives (SGO) and if we don't make the SGP number (Student Growth Percentage), then we get a low score on our summary evaluation, which is in complete disregard for Campbell's Law and the Law of Large Numbers . . . if you want to learn how kids are doing, you don't take tiny samples and attach them to individual evaluations and then upload them to some expensive software-- which is exactly what Wells Fargo did, because they wanted a certain result, and so they learned that if you measure something in that way, then the results will come-- by hook or by crook-- and while Wells Fargo didn't care how it happened because they wanted to encourage fraudulent behavior in order to bolster stock and portfolio values, you'd think that educators would be smarter, and realize the way to look at student success is to measure large and meaningful numbers, like the entire student body, and make the results completely detached from teacher performance, so that experiments with curriculum and implementation could be attempted and assessed . . . anyway, I'm going to switch banks in order to punish Wells Fargo for their misdeeds, and I encourage you to do the same.
Posted by Dave at 10/14/2016