Let me provide some wisdom provided by Dr. W. Edwards Deming on this subject – “Dr. Deming spoke of 3 ways to improve (Does not imply "good") the figures: distort the data, distort the system and improve the system. Improving the system is the most difficult.”
Following is a prime example of distorting the data: High Schools
Here is a statement from a local high school (Many do this to attract parents to their school):
"In the past five years, our graduates earned over $20 million in scholarships."
OK – I know for a fact this school averages around 100 students that graduate per year. I’m not a math wizard and I’m not making these numbers dance but this statement would mean 20 million divided by 500 = $40,000 per student.
What this really means is the old Pareto Principle at work - The Pareto Principle is very simple, yet very important. It is named after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who, in 1906, found that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population.
In the scholarship numbers used by many high schools this really means your top ten students are getting offers from multiple schools to attend and get scholarship dollars. Let’s say I apply to 5 colleges and they each offer me a full ride equaling $60,000. The school will now put in $300,000 in the pot. I can only go to one school the actual scholarship dollars are $60,000. So if you really want to know the numbers ask the counselor to be specific and show you the scholarship winner and the schools they are to attend. I guarantee you it will be a much smaller number.
Following is a prime example of distorting the system: Wells Fargo
Whom do you blame? Management owns the system and sets the policies. Employees follow these rules in order to save their jobs or to make more money. It all comes down to the dangers of Management By Objectives (MBO), Quotas and Rating and Raking. I have posted about this numerous times since 2005. http://qualityg.blogspot.com/search?q=Ratings
There are so many examples day in and day out. The most popular today is “FAKE NEWS.” Everyone is distorting the facts to gain viewer and readership and this is very dangerous. Social Media only compounds the problem.
Dr. Deming wrote about these dangers/diseases many years ago and people continue to abuse them:
Dr. Deming did not just tell about the diseases he provided a prescription for preventing (not fixing) them. We would all do well to take a good dose of learning and applying these concepts.
Oh - by the way - I DO realize numbers don't actually lie it's the people manipulating them for their own gain or protection.