There was a Freakonomics podcast recently about 'bad medicine' - the wacky and weird things that can happen to all of us.
The podcast opened with a pretty standard measurement, the average human body temperature: 98.6F.
But it's not.
That's the average temperature for 8% of the population.
There we have it: the problem with benchmarking. Benchmarking is considered a ‘best practice’ as you measure against the known best of class, but if you spend a lot of time digging into the practice, you'll see that it is not uncommon to encounter the 98.6 dilemma .
Measuring against what is presumed to be better but, in reality, is an invalid metric.
By its very nature, benchmarking encourages the entire market, every organization being measured, to move to the middle and become average.
Benchmarking pushes industries to focus on limited metrics, instead of pushing to the edges.
You see this with arbitrary rankings like the 100-point wine rating scale that scores red wine by sweetness, dark color, and intensity of fruit. This has commoditized entire regions such as California, where it is nearly impossible to encounter stylistically unique wines.
Ultimately, HCHAPS will lead to the commoditization of hospital care as all administrators will worry about is being responsive to those 27 questions.
The challenge is to be unique, to be different, to provide a solution, position, or experience that is yours. If you have a great culture and treat your employees like they matter, then you don’t have to enter these competitions for "best places to be employed" or "greatest snack selection" or whatever.