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

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  1,685 Ratings  ·  132 Reviews
Praise for How to Measure Anything: Finding the Value of Intangibles in Business

"I love this book. Douglas Hubbard helps us create a path to know the answer to almost any question in business, in science, or in life . . . Hubbard helps us by showing us that when we seek metrics to solve problems, we are really trying to know something better than we know it now. How to Me
Hardcover, 287 pages
Published July 1st 2007 by John Wiley & Sons (first published 1985)
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Takuro Ishikawa
Jul 16, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The most important thing I learned from this book: “A measurement is a set of observations that reduce uncertainty where the result is expressed as a quantity.” Finally! Someone has clearly explained that measurements are all approximations. Very often in social research, I have to spend a lot of time explaining that metrics don’t need to be exact to be useful and reliable. Hopefully, this book will help me shorten those conversations.
Jurgen Appelo
297 references to risk, and only 29 references to opportunity. No mention of unknown unknowns (or black swans), and no mention of the observer effect (goodhart's law). A great book, teaching you all about metrics, as long as you ignore complexity.
Yevgeniy Brikman
Aug 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
As an engineer, this book makes me happy. A great discussion of how to break *any* problem down into quantifiable metrics, how to figure out which of those metrics is valuable, and how to measure them. The book is fairly actionable, there is a complementary website with lots of handy excel tools, and there are plenty of examples to help you along. The only downside is that this is largely a stats book in disguise, so some parts are fairly dry and a the difficulty level jumps around a little bit. ...more
Marcelo Bahia
May 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: investing, business
An excellent read. It could be summed up as a "basic statistics for business" book, although it definitely goes beyond that in many aspects.

As the title suggests, throughout the whole book the author strongly defends the case that everything can be measured, even though the method may not be obvious at first glance. The book structure basically consists of the explanations of why this is so and various examples and methods that should help the reader to deal with many types of such problems.

Steve Walker
Jan 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
There is a lot of good information here but it is more of a text book and very dry. I read this book because I have to make decisions every day. Some decisions are very easy because I have the intell and facts that make the decision for me. But other decisions aren't so easy. What are my "real" risks? How do I separate emotion from a decision? What about all the things involved that can't be measured?

Ah, that is where this book was insightful an helpful. Hubbard aserts that there isn't anything
Martin Klubeck
Jul 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I really like this book. Hubbard not only champions the belief that anything can be measured, he gives you the means (the understanding of how) to get it done. I have used his book on numerous occasions when tackling some difficult data collection efforts.

Hubbard's taxonomy and mine don't fully jive, but that's a minor point; I found much more to like than not. I like to highlight and make notes in good books...this book is full of both. I especially like one of his "useful measurement assumpti
Oct 08, 2013 rated it liked it
An OK popularization of measurement techniques. But it downplays the key issue—which is data quality challenges, of which there are at least two types.

The first is the "moneyball" type: a phenomenon where we know intuitively that there are important differences in measurable outcomes but we lack statistically significant explanations. The challenge here is to find things to measure that are consistently revealing of the phenomenon you are ultimately interested in measuring (say team wins). Maki
Rick Howard
Jul 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: csc-candidate, risk
Douglas Hubbard’s "How to Measure Anything: Finding the Value of "Intangibles" is an excellent candidate for the Cybersecurity Canon Hall of Fame. He describes how it is possible to collect data to support risk decisions for even the hardest kinds of questions. He says that that network defenders do not have to have 100% accuracy in our models to help support these risk decisions. We can strive to simply reduce our uncertainty about ranges of possibilities. He writes that this particular view of ...more
Jun 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Lots of great commentary on why using data is important... his processes for measurement are less... interesting? A good read for data people. :)
Bibhu Ashish
Nov 10, 2014 rated it liked it
Happened to read the book from site where I have been a member since last year. The best takeaway from the book is the structural thought process it brings in while dealing with intangibles which we always are demotivated to measure. To summarize my learning, I would just mention the below which I have copied from the book.
1-If it's really that important, it's something you can define. If it's something you think exists at all, it's something you've already observed somehow.
2-If it's so
Sep 30, 2013 rated it liked it
Simply put the first half of this is just awesome. As I listened to this via audio the second half is plagued by many formulas that doesn’t translate or understood well when listened to. The second half is also very heavily into statistics which could be a somewhat laborious read for some.

The first half is very recommended as it goes into what it means to “measure” something and suggest some very fundamental questions regarding measuring. E.g.:

What is it you want to have measured? E.g. what does
Stephen Rynkiewicz
Classical Greeks not only figured out that the planet is round, but had it measured. Eratosthenes calculated its circumference from a lunch-hour measurement at his library in Alexandria during the summer solstice, knowing only his distance from the Tropic of Cancer. Eratosthenes is a hero of Chicago statistician Doug Hubbard, who trains managers in "calibrated estimates," basically closely observed ballpark figures. Here he describes approaches to making more accurate guesses, including when it' ...more
Jeff Yoak
Apr 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This was a fantastic read. It helps with general numeracy as well as providing an overview on how to think about measurement and statistics practically. This is an area where I have some experience and I still learned a lot. This book, especially the first half, should be accessible to everyone.

The second half is a bit more technical and I wished I had been reading in paper instead of in audio. I may do that eventually. The pacing is a little hard in audio and I could have benefited from notes,
June Ding
Sep 30, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016-read
The title made me curious. The author did make the case that anything can be measured including many things that we consider abstract or intangible. The stories it gave at the start of the book is fascinating and opened my mind about what we think measurement really is. There is no perfect measurement. There is no absolute truth. Measurement is a quantitativly expressed reduction of uncertainty based on one or more observations. I also find the methods to define the problem and the notion that a ...more
Peter Mcloughlin
Fairly good business statistics book on measuring factors and on how to apply measurement and some good risk analysis. Definitely overhyped as a revolutionary booklet (I think this happens with business books a lot.) But it is accessible and gives some good advice on how to measure things statistically and using statistical methods for practical applications but it isn't the second coming.
Dec 09, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: business
I purchased this book because I am in the middle of a project where I have to measure an "intangible". I liked the author's ideas on breaking down a measurement and figuring out the uncertainty factor on each variable. The information he provided helped me to find a solution for my project.
Pauli Kongas
Perhaps not the best read in audio because of some math and a lot of pictures etc.
Jan 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
The book is a very interesting one, that presents the premise that anything that needs to be assessed can be measured, in one form or another. Of course, there is a need to define/redefine what a measurement is. In this, the book is a fascinating look at the paradigm shift that needs to occur to perceive the world in a new way that allows it to be measurable. Many basic assumptions are challenged and revised in the process, which was actually neat. It brings a new perspective, which opens more p ...more
Sundarraj Kaushik
Nov 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A nice book. A must read for sceptics like me who think there are many immeasurables in business. The key message the author gives is, instead of taking a path or avoid taking path because one does not find the right measurement, an attempt should be made to find out what can be measured to reduce the risk if the path is taken or not taken. This will help make a more sensible decision than just saying there are immeasurables. In short some information is better than no information.

It is recommen
Stuart Bobb
Mar 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Nearly anybody making decisions with incomplete data.

This book is not your typical breezy business book that you skim/read on an airplane flight. It's closer to a text book in terms of information density and complexity. Bayesian statistics, calibrated experts, Monte Carlo simulations and a pile of other data heavy methodologies are brought to bear on some very challenging measurement questions.

The basic premise of this book is that far more things can be measured - to some degree of confidence - than you might ever imagine. If you are careful abo
May 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good book, it covers the author's measurement and analysis system, Applied Information Economics, plus offers a lot of encouraging advice on how to find data measurements in any field or endeavor. Though parts of the book can get fairly deep into mathematical examples, overall it was very readable and, if nothing else, offered a plethora of ways to find and use measurements. Personally I thought the author was a bit too dismissive of some decision techniques, his emphasis is on probabilistic m ...more
Aug 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
If you ever wondered how to apply statistics that are taught in school to a business, this books lays the ground for it. It's an interesting read that starts with several examples of how the circumference of the Earth was first measured. It goes into what we can learn from these examples and further diving into the statistics part. The books has examples from the author's experience and tries to make the math easy to digest. Overall, I liked the deconstruction on the measurement and the small an ...more
Renato Zannon
Jan 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although the title is bold, I do think the book delivers sufficient arguments that support the thesis. I'm still not convinced that the method scales well to smaller contexts, though - it seems to fit better larger, riskier decisions.
I do recommend the book to anyone that is interested in how to make decisions in a more quantitative, objective manner. People that have stronger math or stats backgrounds might find the technical parts a bit shallow, but still I find the whole mindset more interest
Feb 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
The framewprk introduced in three book is very helpful in hopes to break down decision making in a measurement oriented way. It can be easy to get lost in the math, but the top level point that if you observe the problem, you can measure it's success is a good one. I also appreciated it's pragmatic approach to measurement, acknowledging that often of you organize the information you already know, you might not need to collect anything new.

Overall it was a very helpful read.
Miguel Costa
Apr 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Awesome idea. The first chapters are worthwile to fully understand his point. The last ones are more practical and addressed for people without a deep probability/statistics background. If you want to better understand the practical side of "measuring anything" those chapters do not suffice.
Jan 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, reread, data
Brilliant! How to measure what you think is unmeasurable - like the intangible values in business. One of those books where I have the audio, ebook and hardcover version. Because it is just that essential.
Robert Bogue
Jun 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Douglas Hubbard certainly knows how to throw down a dare. His book, How to Measure Anything: Finding the Intangibles in Business certainly is a superlative title. The promise is that you’ll be able to measure absolutely anything with the techniques laid out in the book. I have to say that he’s possibly right. Certainly there should be a certain amount of skepticism in any absolute, however, once you understand what measurement is and what is isn’t this makes a lot more sense.

Click here to read t
David Zhang
Nov 14, 2017 rated it liked it
TLDR Didn't finish reading, but it did it's job of instilling me with the belief that most seemingly immeasurable problems are measurable
Mar 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: agile
Interesting and useful, heavy going at times though.
Feb 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Great explanation of Gilb's law. Beneficial reading for anyone involved with metrics and improvement
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“If a measurement matters at all, it is because it must have some conceivable effect on decisions and behaviour. If we can't identify a decision that could be affected by a proposed measurement and how it could change those decisions, then the measurement simply has no value” 7 likes
“Essentially, all models are wrong, but some are useful.” 3 likes
More quotes…