Amused to see all the excitement about ‘lean start-ups’ and continual experimentation to build a business in an uncertain environment.  See “Discovery-driven planning” by Rita Gunther McGrath and Ian C. MacMillan in HBR.  From when? July-August 1995.

(Showing my age, aren’t I?)

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An article in the Harvard Business Review “A picture’s worth a thousand numbers” (hbr.org/2013/06/a-pictures-worth-a-thousand-numbers/ar/1) makes the point that graphs and simulations enable people to play with uncertainty and so better understand the dynamics and the implications of trade-offs and decisions they make.

 

Which is exactly the message from Sam Savage of probabilitymanagement.org  (www.risk.jbs.cam.ac.uk/news/events/annualmeetings/downloads/pdfs/2013/savages.pdf) at the recent conference at the Centre for Risk Studies (www.risk.jbs.cam.ac.uk/news/events/annualmeetings/annualmeeting2013.html).  Probabilitymanagement.org (probabilitymanagement.org/) is developing tools and disseminating the idea of using readily available functions in Microsoft Excel to create pictures of outcomes from probabilistic sequences of events – so creating tools for an open discussion of uncertainty and risk.  And, perhaps more importantly, getting away from the delusions perpetrated by seeking a ‘single number’ to communicate a complex situation.

 

And the need to dispel the delusion of certainty given by a single number applies not only in risk management, but also in product management (think sales forecast figure), R&D management (time to project completion), and so the list goes on – in fact in all the domains where chance plays a role.