Time Travelers

Yes, I invented electricity, too.

I was intrigued by a recent article in the Chicago Sun-Times, an interview with Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy. In the interview, McCarthy claimed that his stewardship was responsible for 90% of the decline in murders and shootings in Chicago during 2011.

Wow. First, it takes a lot of confidence to claim that a drop in crime resulted from the simple fact that your ass was in the superintendent’s chair for three months. After all, this guy started on the job in the middle of May and the newspaper article ran in the middle of August. Talk about hitting the ground running.

That’s not all, though. It turns out that murders declined by 30 on a year to date basis and 26 of those 30 murders didn’t happen in the period from January 1 to McCarthy’s appointment in mid-May. If he was responsible for 90% of the decline, he’s taking credit for a reduction of 23 murders before he was even hired.

Like I said. Wow.

He’s not alone, of course. For many years, I reviewed annual performance reports of federal agencies in a program sponsored by George Mason University. In many cases, especially in the early years, the agencies would cite the most recent numbers available in tracking their performance. As a result, an agency might explain progress in a fiscal 2003 initiative by using numbers from fiscal 2001—two years before the program was implemented.

Don’t laugh. Most likely, your company is doing the same thing. Does a rep take credit for revenue that was already in the pipeline when he joined the company? Does the sales vp blame bad weather in July for the slow sales in the April-June quarter? Does the marketing department take credit for enhanced brand awareness the day after the new ad campaign begins?

Time travel, apparently, happens all the time.

Of course, that’s just my opinion. What do you think?


Written by Michael Rosenbaum on October 28th, 2011. Posted in Uncategorized

Trackback from your site.

Leave a comment