I still remember Dr. Brian Joiner speaking about process improvement and the role of data well over a decade ago. He spoke of 3 ways to improve the figures: distort the data, distort the system and improve the system. Improving the system is the most difficult.
There is an interesting article on the effects of distorting the system: Tony Blair says he will ensure NHS targets do not stop people from seeing their GPs when they want to, from BBC News.
In order to make the data meet the targets the system is distorted to achieve the target, rather than to serve the customer.
From Peter Scholtes‘ article published in National Productivity Review in 1993, Total Quality or Performance Appraisal: Choose One:
As Deming said: “A numerical goal without a method is nonsense.” and “Where there is fear you do not get honest figures.” Source MAQIN Newsletter: Quality at Work – Spring 2005 (link broken 🙁 so I removed it).