terça-feira, abril 25, 2006

Finanças com taxímetro

A leitura deste título, no caderno de Economia do semanário Expresso do passado dia 22, fez-me viajar no tempo e recuar a um fim de tarde de 1992, onde após me acomodar no meu lugar, iniciava a viagem de ligação, por comboio, entre Kyoto e Tóquio, tendo por leitura um pequeno livro cheio de ironia “Understanding Variation – The key to managing chaos” de Donald J. Wheeler.

A propósito do velocímetro que aparece nos computadores dos funcionários do fisco, não há pessoa mais adepta de trabalhar com objectivos e metas quantificadas, do que eu, no entanto, há que saber ler os resultados, há que usar o pensamento sistémico e cartas de Shewart para interpretar os resultados… atentemos nesta história:

“In one plant, whenever it became clear that they would not meet the current montly’s production quota, the foreman would send a forklift to the warehouse to bring back skids of finished product. These units would then be unpacked, loaded on the conveyor, and sent down the packing line. As these units passed down the line, the automatic counters would count them as finished units. As a result of this exercice the department would have another “good” month and the foreman would not have to “explain a bad value.” Of course, at the end of the year, the warehouse inventory was short by about a million dollars worth of finished product. This shortage got the plant manager fired, naturally the new plant manager was nervous. He monitored the routine plant data very carefully, seeking explanations for all values which were unfavorable relative to the targets. Since the pressure to perform was maintained, the production foreman continued as before, and at the end of the fiscal year the warehouse was again about a million dollars short on inventory. The second plant manager was fired.

The new plant manager was very nervous. He took inventory after only three months. Of course the warehouse was about a quarter of a million short. At this point the manager took action – he built a fence around the plant site and placed guards at the gates. After another three months he had another inventory done – now they were a half-million short for the year! In desperation the manager built a fence around the warehouse itself and placed a guard on the gate. While this finally stopped the shrinkage in the warehouse, the production figures took a considerable dive.

Notice how the emphasis upon meeting the production target was the origin of all the turmoil in this case. People were fired and hired, money was spent, all because the production foreman did not lik to have to explain, month after month, why they had not met the production quota. When people are pressed to meet a target value there are three ways they can proceed:

  1. they can work to improve the system;
  2. they can distort the system;
  3. or they can distort the data.

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