Leaving aside the political uproar over the stories of the VA waiting lists, stop a second and think about what really happened here.
First, people established as a metric how long veterans were on the waiting list before they got medical attention. Then people decided to give bonuses based on that metric. And… Surprise. People allegedly gamed the system to make the statistics look better (and get their bonuses). And levels of management who knew or should have known didn’t report the gaming up-dip to their management.
But people knew there were problems, and had been for years.
Lessons: People will game systems tied to their bonus or external perception. Management doesn’t really check the administrative details very closely. And even when Management knows of a problem. they don’t always tell their bosses up-dip. And even when Management knows and commits to fix, they don’t always do it very well.
Do you have information metrics in your business, tied to bonuses? Are people afraid to tell the boss bad news? Do bosses really fix things they don’t care about? Or is the problem different? And what is accountability for information, really?
“Obama Pushes Accountability at VA,” Wall Street Journal, May 22, 2014 A1 http://on.wsj.com/1olnoDG