The readers have spoken and next week we will begin the re-read of How to Measure Anything, Finding the Value of “Intangibles in Business” Third Edition by Douglas W. Hubbard. Like The Mythical Man-Month that we completed last week, the version we are reading is not the same version I originally read in 2007.  Hubbard added a significant amount of content in the third edition that fleshes out the ideas and philosophies identified in the original edition. If you are like me and have not read the third edition, some of the material will be new. I hope this re-read will be as useful as the three we have completed to date. How To Measure Anything is important to me because most of my career has either been directly focused on measurement (I was a marketing statistician for a garment manufacturer) or was significantly influenced by measurement (I was a testing manager for a credit card organization). During my career, I was often confronted by employees or peers that held the belief that some critical factors or decision criteria could not be measured. This often leads to suboptimal or just plain silly decisions.  For example, I was always troubled by a project or product cost-benefit analysis that included as many intangibles as tangible items (intangibles is often used as a code when someone doesn’t know how to measure something). It was not surprising when many of these projects or products did not pay off.  Hubbard stated in the prefix,

“I wrote this book to correct a costly myth that permeates many organizations today: that certain things can’t be measured.”

I would like to think that I already knew the message before I read How To Measure Anything (HTMA), but that might be an overstatement.  At the very least, the book helped me frame the idea that everything is measurable more coherently.  At a tactical level, HTMA still provides a huge boost on how to approach specific measurement issues which I apply in my consulting practice on a nearly daily basis.  I’m looking forward to reading the new addition, and to refreshing my knowledge and to filling in the blanks hinted at in the first edition and promised in this edition. 

In the prefix, Hubbard asks the readers to identify one intractable measurement challenge they are having and write it down. Reading the book with the goal of solving the challenge will provide a the reader with a tangible goal that, if solved, will have immediate value.  Please share your objective in the comments of this blog entry.

The basic premise of HTMA is that everything, or nearly everything, can be measured.  HTMA drives that point home and provides ideas and techniques that convert intangibles into tangibles.  The goal is of measurement to generate more information in order to make better decisions. Therefore, better measurement means more value.

Re-Read approach and Logistics: We will begin the re-read next week with Chapter One on How To Measure Anything, Third Edition.  I hope the new copy of the book has arrived and is waiting for me when to return home from a week on the road.  If you don’t have a copy please consider using my Amazon affiliate link.  The few cents for each book ordered via the link helps to support the blog and podcast.  I anticipate 14 or 15 entries in this re-read, mapping closely to the 14 chapters in the book.  Currently, I anticipate focusing on the philosophy and measurement concepts, rather than a recitation and explanation of the math although I may not be able to help myself at times.