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How to Measure Anything: Finding the Value of "Intangibles" in Business Hardcover – August 3, 2007

4.8 out of 5 stars 61 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Over the past several posts I've been discussing how networkers can reduce supposed "immeasurables" or "intangibles" to something that can in fact be measured, and I've been using Douglas Hubbard's excellent book How to Measure Anything as a guide. I highly recommend that you pick up a copy of the book if you want more details about the approach I've been discussing. For a small book, it covers a lot of ground." (networkworld.com, April 4th, 2009)

"Interestingly written and full of case studies and rich examples, Hubbard's book is a valuable resource for those who routinely make decisions involving uncertainty. This book is readable and quite entertaining, and even those who consider themselves averse to statistics may find it highly approachable." (Strategic Finance, September 2008)

"How many times have you been asked to quantify something that is nebulous or intangible? As a system engineer at Sun, this happens to me all the time. A colleague of mine referred me to How to Measure Anything…one of the best books I've seen in this area." (blogs.sun.com; 1/28/08)

"After reading Hubbard's excellent book on 'How to Measure Anything', I was able to immediately solve several measurement challenges for my CEO and Business Owner colleagues. It should be on every manager's desk." (Amazon.com; 10/07)

"…the book for anyone who wants to know how to measure the value of information or any other intangible asset." (Computer Weekly, Tuesday 18th September 2007)

"Hubbard has made a career of finding ways to measure things that other folks thought were immeasurable. Quality? The value of telecommuting? The risk of IT project failure? the benefits of greater IT security? Public image? He says it can be done -- and without breaking the bank. Many IT steering committees won't approve projects that "can't be measured," so it behooves CIOs to figure this out! ...... If you'd like to fare better in the project-approval wars, take a look at this book." (ComputerWorld, 8/07)

"… allows [companies] to measure performance in such diverse areas as customer satisfaction, employee morale, quality and organisational flexibility." (CPO Agenda, Autumn 2007)

From the Inside Flap

How to Measure Anything: Finding the Value of Intangibles in Business

From market research to information technology to financial reporting, How to Measure Anything reveals the power of measurement to our understanding of business and the world at large. This insightful and eloquent book will show you how to measure those things in your own business that, until now, you may have considered "immeasurable," including customer satisfaction, organizational flexibility, technology risk, and technology ROI.

With examples ranging from how a marine biologist measures the population of fish in a large lake to how the United States Marine Corps found out what really matters in forecasting fuel requirements for the battlefield, you will discover a "universal approach" to measuring "intangibles," along with some interesting methods for particular problems.

Here, you will learn about:

  • The Illusion of Intangibles: Why Immeasurables Aren't

  • Calibrated Estimates: How Much Do You Know Now?

  • Measuring Risk: Introduction to the Monte Carlo

  • Sampling Reality: How Observing Some Things Tells Us about All

  • Unconventional Measurement Instruments such as the internet, human judges, prediction markets, and more

  • Measuring the Value of Information: What's It Worth to Measure?

Written by recognized expert Douglas Hubbard—creator of Applied Information Economics—How to Measure Anything illustrates how the author has used his approach across various industries and how any problem, no matter how difficult, ill defined, or uncertain can lend itself to measurement using proven methods. Direct and easy-to-follow, How to Measure Anything is a resource no manager or executive can afford to be without.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (August 3, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470110120
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470110126
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.1 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #664,542 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Dave Kinnear on October 31, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Hubbard explains how to "find the value of intangibles in business." An excellent book and one which should be on every manager's book shelf.

Hubbard has made what can be a deadly dull subject interesting and accessible. I found several examples for measuring exactly what I needed and always felt I could not measure. This book is a must read for leaders including the Master Six Sigma Blackbelt on your staff. Finding the value of intangibles in business has always been a challenge. How to Measure Anything is full of practical ideas for getting to a measurement.

Measurement: reducing the uncertainty. As long as we are not willing to accept a best guess, or educated estimate, or range of possibilities for a difficult to measure item we will not move forward. Our decisions will be flawed. Hubbard put forth these four assumptions which I found to be most useful when thinking about measuring:

1. Your problem is not as unique as you think
2. You have more data than you think
3. You need less data than you think
4. There is a useful measurement that is much simpler than you think.

Numbers can be used to confuse people; especially the gullible ones lacking basic skills with numbers. Therefore we, as leaders, must be committed to making sure the whole organization is data driven and understands the way we can reduce uncertainty through the straight forward techniques Hubbard explains. As he states, "The fact is that the preference for ignorance over even marginal reductions in ignorance is never the moral high ground."

Hubbard gives us a very useful check list for a Universal Approach to Measurement:
1. What are you trying to measure? What is the real meaning of the alleged "intangible?"
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Format: Hardcover
Douglas Hubbard covers a broad landscape but does exactly what the title claims; it provides a guide to measuring anything. Hubbard builds from simple concepts to show the practical yet intuitively simple application of some rather advanced statistical techniques. The author's skill is in communicating complex ideas in an easy to follow and motivational flow that builds in a series of seemingly obvious steps.

The book is both philosophical and practical. If one read no more than the first three chapters one's view of the world would be changed forever. Yet the later chapters cover many extremely simple illustrations of some complex statistical concepts. I particularly enjoyed his discussion of the value of information (chapter 7), Bayesian Statistics (chapter 10), and some advanced concepts such as measuring value via observable trade-offs and using prediction markets. No one reading just a portion of this book would walk away without a new insight.

This book would be extremely useful to students in an MBA program or to those pursuing an advanced degree in one of the social sciences. It would provide a valued motivational reference to anyone studying Computer Science, Economics, or Applied Statistics. Anyone teaching or mentoring students in these disciplines might want to review this book for inclusion in their curriculum.

The book also has considerable potential at helping someone working the area of Data Warehousing and Business Intelligence. For example, Steve and Nancy Williams have written a great book titled "The Profit Impact of Business Intelligence". In it they explain the case for managing BI projects as a portfolio of risky investments.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Perhaps the most frequent question from decision analysis team members is, "How do we get the inputs?" In most evaluations, there are several key variables about which we know little. Consider oil price, for example. We have abundant historical data, yet forecasting future prices is a daunting challenge.

Doug Hubbard has written an entire book about capturing quantitative judgments. His approach differs from the usual decision analysis process. In a conventional analysis, we assume that that a subject matter expert (SME) can be identified for each key variable. Then, a skilled interviewer carefully elicits the SME's judgment through an interview process.

Hubbard takes a different approach. People familiar with the type project are assembled and given calibration training. Becoming calibrated might take perhaps a half-day of practice exercises and feedback. Basically, being "calibrated" means that one can consistently provide judgments of 90% confidence intervals that avoid the "overconfidence" bias. The book provides several example quizzes for the reader to self-assess.
Even though I was well-aware of the overconfidence bias, I still performed poorly on the self-assessment tests (history was never my strong subject!). Of course, the questions for a technical group would be crafted from topics within the area of interest. Whether (a) expert in the quiz subject matter or not and (b) being told in advance that people tend to be overconfident about the quality of their knowledge doesn't seem to affect the overconfident bias. Practice and feedback are the antidotes.

Hubbard's training and consulting examples are engaging. It has been years since I've devoured a technical book so thoroughly.
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