Numbers Gone Wild (the workshop)

Numbers Gone Wild: Or, Precision In, Garbage Out
Upcoming programs from Advanced Competitive Strategies

ACS’ Mark Chussil will deliver a workshop, “Numbers Gone Wild: Or, Precision In, Garbage Out,” at the SCIP 2010 Conference in Washington, DC. See below for an overview of the workshop.

Update: See Numbers Gone Wild (the essay), which shares some themes from the workshop, delivered on March 11, 2010.

ACS is planning its upcoming schedule of webinars about business war games, strategic thinking, and other topics of interest to strategists. If you would like to be notified as those webinars become available, please let us know.

The Numbers Gone Wild workshop
I’m just an everyday guy who runs 20,000,000 simulations before breakfast. Doesn’t make me break a sweat, though my computer feels a bit warm. I like numbers and I like learning the things that only numbers can reveal or teach.

That said, numbers also drive me crazy. We’re surrounded by pointless numbers, pseudo-precise numbers, even silly numbers, and as a result we make pointless decisions, pseudo-precise decisions, even silly decisions.

The answer isn’t the quant’s digital paradise. That’s so even though my mini surveys show people believe the best way to get better decisions is to get more-precise data. The answer isn’t the qual’s number-free zone. That’s so even though some of my best friends are innumerate. Rather, the answer is in how we think about numbers and in the numbers we choose to think about.

No statistical expertise is required for this workshop. Quals and quants will both be comfortable and entertained.

This workshop uses a series of interactive exercises and games to demonstrate how our misuse of numbers leads to strategy mistakes. We’ll talk about those mistakes in the context of mental models, precision, spreadsheets, gap analysis, trend lines, paper-folding, groupthink, survivor bias, analyzing novel situations, and the Strategist’s Dilemma. We’ll talk about the mistakes incumbents make that let upstarts win. And no, the mistakes we’ll talk about are probably not those you’re expecting. For example, although garbage in, garbage out is a problem for spreadsheets, it’s almost trivial as these problems go.

This is not a workshop about calculating, decimal points, or the difference between correlation and causation. It is a workshop about thinking, in particular strategic thinking. It is a workshop about getting a fresh view on common challenges. And ultimately it is a workshop about making much better strategy decisions.

See also Precision In, Garbage Out

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