Rating

8

Qualities

  • Innovative
  • Applicable

Recommendation

Finding the answers to most questions usually begins with measuring. But when it comes to answering questions that plague business and society – Will this new product succeed? Will that company fail? How valuable is a human life? – the usual tools of measurement fall short. Metrics expert Douglas W. Hubbard offers a logical, reasoned explanation of how to assign a dimension to anything, especially intangibles or “soft” issues. He makes a strong case for why failing to measure such issues can lead to unsatisfactory or even disastrous decisions. His straightforward approach to the sometimes off-putting field of statistics will appeal to even the most numerically challenged. getAbstract recommends his advice to anyone charged with making critical decisions.

Summary

Immeasurable Odds

Executives face decisions daily that require assessment of risk, calculation of worth or prediction of an outcome. You can weigh the quantitative aspects of business decisions, such as how many widgets to produce or what your share of the widget market might be. But most executives shy away from measuring intangibles, those amorphous ideas or values that seemingly defy objective quantification. And because managers believe that some things simply cannot be measured, they make decisions with imperfect knowledge or understanding.

“Anything can be measured.” If you can see, sense or feel something, you can measure it. Just how you will measure it depends on how well you frame your query. Measurement is not about getting a precise, correct answer; it’s about lessening uncertainty. Reducing ambiguity is better than not considering an issue’s dimensions at all, particularly if the issue plays a large role in your decision making.

Be Creative

You don’t have to be a statistician or even good with numbers to measure something. You must simply be observant. That’s how second century BC scholar Eratosthenes first determined the Earth’s circumference...

About the Author

Douglas W. Hubbard is an expert in metrics, decision analysis and risk management. He is the author of The Failure of Risk Management: Why It’s Broken and How to Fix It.


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