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Why Can't You Just Give Me The Number?

An Executive's Guide to Using Probabilistic Thinking to Manage Risk and to Make Better Decisions


Executives routinely make major decisions in the face of high uncertainty. In fact, managing risk and uncertainty is one of the key functions of any senior manager. Techniques for estimating the probabilities of multiple scenarios (and the impact of those scenarios) have existed for years, yet many of the men and women in executive positions do not understand how to use the results of these analyses appropriately. This book supplies that understanding in language that non-statisticians can understand. The emphasis is on the practical; real-life examples illustrate the key points throughout the book. Example topics include: why major projects are so often late and over budget, when to spend money on more information (and when not to), the benefits of a risk-neutral approach, psychological weaknesses humans have when dealing with uncertainty, and tools to use and traps to avoid.


1-6Why Can’t You Just Give Me the Number?
7-14The Root of All Value
15-24Dealing with an Uncertain World
25-44Steps in the Right Direction
45-56Improving the Odds of Success
57-70It’s All in Your Head
71-84Contingent Probabilities
85-100Which Number Do You Want?
101-110Rolling Up the Numbers Without Getting Flattened
111-126Late and Over Budget – Project Management Issues
127-146What It’s All About: Decisions
147-166How Much Is That Data in the Window?
167-180Optimization and the Efficient Frontier
181-188Dangerous Curves Ahead – Statistical Quirks and Traps
189-192Final Thoughts

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