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

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  2,654 ratings  ·  188 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
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Hardcover, 287 pages
Published July 1st 2007 by John Wiley & Sons (first published 1985)
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Average rating 3.95  · 
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 ·  2,654 ratings  ·  188 reviews


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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
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. ...more
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.
Nils
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
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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
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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.

Alon
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Bibhu Ashish
Nov 10, 2014 rated it liked it
Happened to read the book from IIBA.org 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
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Alok Kejriwal
May 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How to Measure Anything - Book Review.

A mentally challenging yet incredibly enlightening book.

What’s impressive about the content?

- The Art and Science of making guesses.

- The ability to use well thought through assumptions and estimate outcomes.

- Early examples of the book of legends such as Fermi who asked his students to estimate the number of piano tuners in Chicago (more like the questions you supposedly get asked in a google interview ?)

- Bayes Theorem and Bayesian thinking. It's NERDY bu
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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
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Robert Martin
Dec 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
While analysing digital entertainment stocks over summer, I got stuck on the question of how to value a company's intellectual property. This initially seems like an incredibly difficult task – how can one quantitatively estimate the value of something so intangible? I was able to make progress by considering the following: if you own IP, the next time you want to produce a movie, you get to keep all of the profits rather than having to pay a portion to a licensor; this difference can be thought ...more
Nathan
Nov 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a dense book. It took me several months to get through it, but that was partially because after the refresher on Bayesian Statistics I started reading another textbook on that.

If you like math and numbers and analysis and have to make decisions, you'll get some useful information from this book. I built my first Monte Carlo model while walking through this.

For years I've been asking friends "How confident are you?" when they give me a binary answer. Eg: Q: Will this be done by Friday? A:
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Jon
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
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Karen
Dec 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This book is a *must read* for anyone who needs to compile coherent, useful business cases in scenarios where "intangibles" exist. As the author notes, it's not about compiling exact data but rather reducing uncertainty (and thus risk). I found the concepts and approaches outlined by this book to be very useful. While not a whispersync title, I bought both the kindle version and the audible.com version -- while it's nice to have the concepts available for visual review, I found the audible.com v ...more
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
Paulo Saraiva
May 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
To put it simple: the best book I ever read about risk management.

If you want great and practical insights about what you need to measure when it comes to problem solving or decision making, this is a masterpiece. Here you will find a lot of Mathematical tools that are extremely useful in clarifying situations in which we use to think that there is no ways to perform objective measurement, specifically about what we usually call "intangibles".

Even when it comes to psychology of decision making,
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Kevin
Apr 20, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, business
Tedious to read. Unless you are wanting a statistics course. I was looking for the theory, not the equations. I don't think the entirety of the book was worth the few nuggets I pulled out.

The cliff notes amount to: measurement is about uncertainty reduction, not necessarily uncertainty elimination. Don't forego trying to measure something just because you know it won't be a perfect measurement. Is it a better measurement than what you're currently using? Will it be valuable in making a decision
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Jason
Nov 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A dense, hard to read book, but so worth it

It’s been awhile since I read (and finished) a book so dense and complicated. It was worth it though as it changed so much of how I think about everything. From work and estimation with prioritization to all the data that is around us everyday. So. Very good.
Emil O. W. Kirkegaard
Feb 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: stats, psych
Kind of an introduction to applied decision theory, with some good stuff about how to quantify things.
Daniel Hageman
Jan 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science, psychology
Fantastic book for anyone worried that our lack of certainty in measurement techniques implies a categorical inability to measure in principle.
Allison
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. :)
Vlad Ardelean
Oh boy, I've been waiting a long time to review this one. I'll start with the good parts, as they're few and far between. I've also posted this review directly from the kindle app twice already, and it doesn't show up, so this is my 3rd attempt to post a review for this book:


The good parts:
I learnt how to measure the population of fish in a lake. That's quite cool! I will not give a spoiler here, enough to say that it involves catching and tagging the fish.

Then I learnt a few statistics factlets
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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
Chris
Aug 08, 2020 rated it liked it
I listened to the audio book and it was interesting. I enjoyed the opening and the Enrico Fermi example of the scraps of paper at Alamogordo where the first nuclear bomb was tested to estimate yield of the bomb and the piano tuners in the city of Chicago. The author describes these questions as Fermi questions and to use them to estimate things you know to arrive at a measurement.

The author goes through Confidence Intervals (CI) and how to determine them. He also details some simple Statistics
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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,
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Christophe Addinquy
Mar 06, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: management
This is a high density reading, by all means ! Inside this text, you'll discover how to "calibrate" your estimation and more importantly how to decompose a complexe problem into more manageable chunks. The statistical tools, however, require a more substantiel statical knowledge (helle, Monte-Carlo !). This is an impressive reading, and not a quick one !
Ma note de lecture en Français ici
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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
Kc
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. ...more
Pauli Kongas
Perhaps not the best read in audio because of some math and a lot of pictures etc.
James
Mar 10, 2021 rated it liked it
Not quite what it says on the cover, but still seems fairly useful. This is basically a book about how to reduce one's uncertainty about empirical outcomes - kind of like a leveling-up guide for a Metaculus predictor or something. There were a few useful bits of content, but I found that most of the information in here was old hat. Most of value from this read was from food for thought rather than direct lessons from the author.

Notes:
• Book claims to be about how to measure "intangible" busines
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Hamish Seamus
The only other book I've read which justified its length was Decisive by Dan and Chip Heath.

Strategy:
1. Make a list of factors you think are relevant
2. Convert each of these features into a z-score
3. Add them up to get an overall ranking

Before measuring something answer the following:
1. what decision does this support
2. what observable consequences does it have?
3. how does this matter to the decision?
4. what is current level of uncertainty?
5. what is the value of additional information?

N
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46 likes · 13 comments
“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” 8 likes
“Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence” 4 likes
More quotes…