Why Can't You Just Give Me The Number? by Patrick Leach

An Executive's Guide to Using Probabilistic Thinking to Manage Risk and to Make Better Decisions... Now in its Second Edition!

Patrick Leach (now CEO of Decision Strategies, Incorporated) draws on his extensive consulting and teaching experience to present a compelling, insightful, and understandable case for using probabilistic analysis as part of everyday business decision-making. Practical examples and case studies are clearly presented.

Mr. Leach is an experienced conference speaker, business trainer, and consultant. He makes a clear, concise case for appropriate implementation of probabilistic analysis. Rather than get bogged down with equations and complexity, he shares his insight and the benefits of his experience (and some key research by others) in a way that is readable, useful, and memorable.

Note: Mr. Leach has added material to the Second Edition and has updated several sections of the book. The Second Edition is available only in paperback; the Kindle and Apple Stores still have the Frist Edition. If you have the First Edition, as much as we would like to sell you a new book, we do not recommend "upgrading." Mr. Leach updated several out-of-date examples and added interesting material, but the basic principles are expressed well in the First Edition and have not materially changed. At some point in the future we will update the Kindle and Apple Store versions. We have included the new table of contents below. Note that this book was designed to be an "Airplane" book - that is, it is compact, interesting, and easy to read.



Why Can't You Just Give Me The Number?, Second Edition

 

Publication Information: List Price $29.95

If you are a student, faculty member, or if you are a member of AACE, INFORMS, DAAG, DAS, IEEE, SPE, AAPG, ASME, AIChE, ASCE, or ACS, or if you are a Crystal Ball or @Risk user, you qualify for a professional discount price of only $20 (plus shipping)!

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Second Edition:
ISBN: 978-1-9410750-1-2.
Published June, 2014. Pages: 240.

First Edition:
ISBN: 0-9647938-5-7 / 978-0964793859
Published September, 2006. Pages: 208.

ISBN Digital Editions: 0-9647938-2-2 / 978-09647938-2-8.

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Academic and Training Usage

Several universities and colleges (Northwestern, Rice, University of Texas, IU Purdue, UF, Indian School of Business Hyderabad, Evangel University) use Why Can't You Just Give Me The Number? as a book of supplemental readings within their MBA curriculum. This book can help students understand the value of probabilistic analysis and some of the decision-making traps that executives should be aware of.

Many major companies (ExxonMobil, Chevron, Occidental, Johnson and Johnson, Hess, Unilever, Apache, ConocoPhillips) have successfully used Why Can't You Just Give Me The Number? as part of their internal training curriculum. One major oil and gas firm purchased copies for every managing director in the company.

Reviews


About Why Can't You Just Give Me The Number?

Here's the "rest of the story" about Number? (which has not been told elsewhere).

In the mid 2000's, Pat and I were both working at DSI. I heard from one of my colleagues that he had written an excellent manuscript and I asked him about it. He had shopped it to the "majors" and one of them expressed some interest. I told him that we'd be interested in the project and to keep Probabilistic Publishing in mind.

A few months later, I checked with Pat, and the "major" publishing house was still expressing some interest. However, several months after that, I went to Pat and caught him in a good moment and re-expressed our interest. He thought for a minute, and then said, "Let's do it."

Upon reading his manuscript for the first time, we were excited. There are things in this book that you will not find anywhere else. Pat's writing was so strong that we only did minimal editing. There were several passionate lunch-time discussions during which Pat and I debated several of the DA-related items contained within the book, and we ended up with a product of which we are both very proud. By late 2009 we were sold out of the first printing, so we completed a second printing in February, 2010.

Second Edition

Then in late 2013, we discussed how to update the book, as some of the examples were now significantly dated. After much discussion, we decided to go ahead and publish a new Edition, as (1) quite a bit of the material was updated, and (2) Patrick had some very interesting new material. Also, Pat is now CEO of Decision Strategies, Inc., so we wanted to get his perspective on the book's topics now that he's in a different position. We think you'll like the result. Also, a certain dear friend who will remain (almost) anonymous (Diana!) expressed her dislike of the original cover, so we challenged her to come up with a new concept. She did so, and we like the new cover very much.


From the Second Edition: Table of Contents


Why Can’t You Just Give Me the Number?............................................ 1
The Root of All Value ............................................................ 7
 Uncertainty as a Source of Value ............................................... 9
Dealing with an Uncertain World ................................................. 15
 If We Ignore Uncertainty, Will it Go Away? .................................... 16
 Buried in Paper ............................................................... 19
 High Enough For You?........................................................... 20
Steps in the Right Direction .................................................... 25
 Tornado Warnings .............................................................. 30
 Seeing the Forest for the Trees ............................................... 33
 Monte Carlo Simulation: “What Ifs” on Steroids ................................ 38
Improving the Odds of Success ................................................... 45
 How Fear of CLMs Causes CEs to be Less Than EVs, Thereby Reducing NPVs ........ 46
 Remaining Neutral ............................................................. 47
It’s All in Your Head ........................................................... 57
 It’s All Relative – But Should it Be? ........................................ 59
 Reference Frames 1: The Plague ............................................... 60
 Reference Frames 2: Projects and Portfolios .................................. 61
 Losses vs. Costs ............................................................. 63
 Standing on the Fulcrum ...................................................... 64
 No Doubt ..................................................................... 65
 Pain and Pleasure: Two Sides of a Loaded Coin ................................ 66
 Mine’s Better Than Yours ..................................................... 67
 The Tip of the Iceberg ....................................................... 68
Contingent Probabilities ....................................................... 71
 Paired Product Launches ...................................................... 72
 The Gold Mine ................................................................ 78
Which Number Do You Want? ...................................................... 85
 Of Medians and Men............................................................ 93
Rolling Up the Numbers Without Getting Flattened ............................... 101
 The Portfolio Effect ........................................................ 101
 Dependencies and Correlations ............................................... 104
Late and Over Budget – Project Management Issues .............................. 111
 Near-Critical-Path Activities ............................................... 114
 The Portfolio Effect and Right-Skewed Probability Distributions ............. 117
 Getting MAIMed............................................................... 123
What It’s All About: Decisions ................................................ 127
 Combatting Randomness ....................................................... 130
 A Brief Sojourn Into the World of Decision Analysis ......................... 132
 The Option Play ............................................................. 138
 Following the Plan .......................................................... 143
How Much Is That Data in the Window? .......................................... 147
 The Value of Information in an Imperfect World .............................. 148
 The Deadly Disease .......................................................... 150
 The Mediterranean Restaurant ................................................ 152
 Fighting Decision Boundaries .................................................159
 The Value of Control (VOC) .................................................. 161
 Fighting Analysis Paralysis ................................................. 164
Optimization and the Efficient Frontier ....................................... 167
 Go for the Gusto, or Play It Safe? .......................................... 176
Dangerous Curves Ahead – Statistical Quirks and Traps ......................... 181
 The Trap: Believing that Improbable Equals Impossible ....................... 182
 The Trap: Selective Statistics .............................................. 185
Final Thoughts ................................................................ 189
Bibliography .................................................................. 193
Glossary ...................................................................... 194
Appendices .................................................................... 199
 The Shell Game .............................................................. 189
 Thinking Fast and Slow ...................................................... 205
 The 100% Problem with the 90% Solution ...................................... 211
 Trade-offs .................................................................. 215
 Supercali-fragile-istic ..................................................... 221
Index ......................................................................... 225