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

Douglas W. Hubbard
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

17 Aug 2007
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 Measure Anything provides just the tools most of us need to measure anything better, to gain that insight, to make progress, and to succeed."
–Peter Tippett, PhD, M.D.
Chief Technology Officer at CyberTrust
and inventor of the first antivirus software

"Doug Hubbard has provided an easy–to–read, demystifying explanation of how managers can inform themselves to make less risky, more profitable business decisions. We encourage our clients to try his powerful, practical techniques."
–Peter Schay
EVP and COO of
The Advisory Council

"As a reader you soon realize that actually everything can be measured while learning how to measure only what matters. This book cuts through conventional clichés and business rhetoric and offers practical steps to using measurements as a tool for better decision making. Hubbard bridges the gaps to make college statistics relevant and valuable for business decisions."
–Ray Gilbert
EVP Lucent

"This book is remarkable in its range of measurement applications and its clarity of style. A must–read for every professional who has ever exclaimed, ′Sure, that concept is important, but can we measure it?′"
–Dr. Jack Stenner
Cofounder and CEO of MetraMetrics, Inc.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: John Wiley & Sons; 1 edition (17 Aug 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470110120
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470110126
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 16 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 657,417 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


"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." (, 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." (; 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." (; 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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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Keep it simple, stupid 1 April 2010
Hubbard writes lucidly about thinking, statistics and decision making. His measurement examples are mostly about businesses, but the methods and issues discussed are very general:

-how do you break down a problem into smaller ones (that are more amenable to analysis)
-how critical thinking can pinpoint key elements of a complex issue
-how even small amount of data is valuable if nothing was known before
-it makes sense to try to measure the immeasurable rather than ignore it
-you need to measure the variable that is least known, even if it is the most difficult one to measure
-there is often no need to measure things because extra decimal of accuracy is mostly useless
-measurement cost (direct and indirect) must be considered
-what are you going to do with the newly found data ? There must some reason to do the measurement,
some decision must made, some money invested, some project dropped. If not, why bother ?

One of the key strengths of this book is that it always reminds about measurement errors and confidence intervals:
data without understanding its reliability is of little use.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delivers on the promise on the cover to a T 10 May 2010
Hubbard's book is one of the best examples of a management book i have recently read. While the title focuses on measurement, the focus of the book is not measurement for its own sake but as an instrument to reducing uncertainty in a cost effective manner.

Hubbard quickly does away with the falacies that most things are not measurable or that measurement needs to be expensive and introduces very simple techniques for simple measurmeents, which on their own need not cost a lot but provide the user with a significant reduction in uncertainty about decisions.

On top of introducing practical examples of how measurement can be conducted, and some basic statistics behind them (this is not a book on statistics, mind you), Hubbard also devotes attention to valuing the measurements in terms of reducing uncertainty - making decisions on whether certain measures are cost effective or not much more straightforward.

After the first section on how many more things are actually easily measurable than one would assume, Hubbard delves deeper into the how's and when's of measurement in the subsequent sections, which slowly get more technical - yet never stray beyond the understanding of an even mildly moderate reader. And as the author claims, often most value can be derived from some simple calibration exercises for our intuition, and by conceptually understanding how to go about measurement, even if not every reader will be able to replicate the maths behind it.

This book is something every management consultant should read - it presents some pretty powerful arguments one can use in the sales context and it can be used relatively easily in justifying the expense for uncertainty reduction.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
By Robert Morris TOP 500 REVIEWER
"I wrote this book to correct a myth that permeates many organizations today: that certain things can't be measured." Douglas Hubbard goes on to note that he has made a career out of measuring the sorts of things many thought were immeasurable. Intangibles, for example, "that appear to be completely intractable to be a way that is economically justified." Hubbard notes that there are several common misconceptions about intangibles. He offers what he characterizes as a "universal approach," Applied Information Economics (AIE), to measure an intangible, providing with that explanation some "interesting methods for particular problems."

He duly recognizes that only what is most important (tangible or intangible) should be measured; also, that what is currently most important may not retain that importance; and, that information needs change, sometimes significantly and unexpectedly. That said, basic questions must constantly be asked and answered:

1. What are our most important information needs? Why?

2. How best to obtain and then verify that information?

3. What will we then do with that information?

4. How can we then measure (accurately, consistently, and sufficiently) the impact of actions taken based on that information?

To his credit, Hubbard makes every effort to provide information, explanations, and recommendations that are (in his words) as "simple as can be"; nonetheless, some of the material may prove daunting, at least it did to me. I appreciate the inclusion of dozens of real-world examples that illustrate key points. Hubbard also makes effective use of other reader-friendly devices, such as checklists inserted throughout his narrative.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What it says on the cover (almost) 10 Aug 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A good collection of practical advice on how to measure the so-called "intangibles" in business, whether by creatively analysing information, or just calibrating your own intuitive sense.

Key point: the more important a value, the less likely it is to be properly measured. Spending $1000: present a detailed business case with cost-benefit analysis. Spending $10M? The return comes from improved public image and customer perception.
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