I have found this quote by William Edwards Deming to be widely shared by “improvement scientists” involved in healthcare:
My concerns about this aphorism are on a number of levels:
- Implicitly it reduces subjective experience and thus the person.
- Implicitly it is stating only that which is measurable is important.
- Science is based on method and observation; this is then recorded in words (‘labels’ if you like) and this is then converted into numbers (data). At each stage there is a representational loss of actual experience.
- It lacks philosophical understandings of reality. What I mean is that it is impossible for numbers to fully represent reality.
- Healthcare is not the same as engineering [the original context of this quote]
- In reality there is no clear divide between objectivity and subjectivity. Science strives to be objective but cannot do this simply by ignoring the subjective.