Nationwide wireless, and how to measure?

This New York Times article (registration required) talks about the plans of the bigco’s to look at rolling out a nationwide network for WiFi access. Sounds like an interesting idea, but are there enough people ready and willing to pay for WiFi to make it profitable? While I think people should want it, I’m not convinced that enough demand exists out there to pay for this yet.

On another note, Joel discusses the problems inherent with measuring the productivity of knowledge workers. An example:

According to Mike Daisey, Amazon rated their customer service representatives based on the number of calls taken per hour. The best way to get your performance rating up was to hang up on customers, thus increasing the number of calls you can take every hour.

It’s an interesting look, I may even pick up the book he talks about, but I believe that is written about software companies, so maybe not. But, it’s interesting to me because I’m in a similar situation. No matter what the higher up’s use to measure the work I do, it’ll be incomplete, and it’ll only serve to encourage me to “work to the measurement”. My situation is also complicated by the fact that the people I work for don’t understand what I do, I have to spell it out for them. The only “measurement” I’ve been told about is that they measure how well I do my job by whether things work or not. But even that isn’t a good measurement, because things like hardware failure are beyond my control, and they’re encouraging me to purchase ultra-reliable equipment and not experiment with anything new that may increase the productivity of other employees, but may also have an adjustment period while we all learn something new.

As it stands now, the measurement of how I do my job is determined by a combination of what I tell them I did, and the number of complaints they get about me from other employees, as far as I can tell. Both of which are fertile areas for abuse! On the one hand I could get away with a bunch of exaggerated claims, if I lacked integrity, while on the other, someone with a personal beef with me ( Since I do all the monitoring of email, PC and internet use, there are plenty of people who dislike me) could spend a lot of time complaining about how I was short with them, or didn’t help them in a timely manner, etc.

I guess the only way to truly measure the value is to look and see what would be lost if I left, right? Unfortunately, I don’t think anyone here has enough vision to see that. 🙁 (link lifted from Erik Noble)

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