you can't manage what you can't measure
so if you want to manage something, what do you do?
i'll tell you what the germans do: they manage what they can measure.
(yes, i'm still on about yesterday's clusterfuck, and i'll likely be on it until January when the cadaver is exhumed...)
trouble is, what you can measure is often (i might go so far as to say rarely) what you actually need to manage. for example, a close friend of mine had a heart attack, (far too early at age 50), and he's become a walking medical report of hdl, ldl, triglyceride and all sorts of other levels, not to mention hectored to scrupulously avoid trans fat and saturated fat and all sorts of other things that you and i would feel like we might perish to have to live without. it's all intended to keep him "healthy"... (have you ever wondered why so many important medical texts were originally written in german?)
so today i see in a list of "heart unhealthy" saturated fats the would-be scourge, coconut oil. except my friend's doctors now also tout such exact same as GOOD for people with coronary artery disease, because though palmitic and myristic acids are bad, lauric acid and stearic acid are now supposed to be thought of as good, and, if we would believe we finally have a final answer, and apparently, not all saturated fats are created equal, or, indeed, saturated equally.
want to know what i think? (of course you don't--i'm wholly unqualified to be talking about heart disease, but there's a point unrelated to heart disease, if you can bear with things a bit).
none of these things, not hdl's, not ldl's not triglycerides, not saturated fats, not unsaturated fats, poly or mono, not trans fats, nor anything else in the library of dietary substances, is there one single thing that if you eat, you are guaranteed to have a heart attack. (my father just passed away at age 90 and he would eat butter right off the stick if my mother didn't catch him doing it, and he never had anything even remotely resembling a heart attack). neither is there one single thing that if you eat you are guaranteed never to have a heart attack. NOTHING in this litany of things that can be measured is there anything with a direct causative relation to heart disease. it's all statistics and probabilities and "oops, did we say saturated fats? we meant to say only THESE saturated fats..." which is not to say that there might not be something in there, but what i do mean to say is that while we are busy measuring things to manage, the REAL cause of heart disease is still lurking out there unmeasured and unmanaged, and all we're really doing is chasing the tail of correlation and not causation, and the one thing that i can absolutely promise you that i can measure that to mean is LOTS more heart attacks.
(one of my favorite ever dilbert cartoons: the pointy-haired boss walks up behind dilbert and says "someone sent me another anonymous email with a link to an article about the world's worst bosses". he continues in the next frame to say "i get one of those emails every time i leave your cubicle. did you think i wouldn't notice the correlation?" and in the last frame, in addition to seeing the PHB walking away, we can also see wally standing behind the cubicle wall pressing "send" on his smartphone, with a thought balloon the reads: "correlation does not imply causation").
so it is that i'm trapped on yet another interminable conference call this morning discussing all the ways in which little green status markers can be applied to what we are doing in order to measure the "success" of our little project. it's going to be like congratulating jim fixx, as he's dropping dead of a heart attack at age 52 after his daily run, that his little running regimen will have surely saved him from any risk of having a heart attack.