Quantified Self – Self Knowledge Through Numbers

in Measurement, Quantified Self

In improvement science, we talk about measurement for learning, but it’s in the context of business processes. Anyone who has worked with an improvement advisor knows that we think so much through the lens of Profound Knowledge that we don’t limit our data tracking to our work, we also collect data on ourselves. I often joke that it’s a sickness among my colleagues, but we are all tracking at least one measure to learn about our lifestyle and improve practices that are important to us.

It turns out, we are not alone. I discovered a group of folks called Quantified Self who come together to share how they use measurement to understand and change their lives. I first learned about the group from Tim Ferriss of The 4-Hour Workweek fame. Ferriss uses self data to understand and improve his health, work and just about everything. He profiled the San Francisco chapter of Quantified Self started by Kevin Kelly and Gary Wolf in his writings and now there are QS chapters that meet around the country, including one in my home city of Austin.

I am guilty of self measurement. I’m not as diligent as my colleagues, but I track a lot of data through my many devices that make it easy: a scale that syncs to wifi, TripIt.com which monitors my travel, and time sheets for my work. I once brought an annotated run chart of my weight in to argue my progress with a CrossFit Coach. A friend, formally at Frog Design, once even sent a team to my house to learn about my self measurement.

My self measurement has been passive and based on convenience. In 2013, I aim to follow the example of my colleagues and develop measures tied to the things I want to improve in 2013 (see annual review) and use that data for learning. I hope this data will help me focus on what matters and help me achieve the results I desire and provide deeper learning into how to do so. Watch for more posts in the future with updates.