It is no secret that objective and quantified measures are a critical aspect of communicating clearly. However, many communications use numbers inappropriately and lose credibility through exaggeration, false precision, inappropriate units, or other forms of deceptive misusage. In How to Measure Anything: Finding the Intangibles in Business, Douglas Hubbard defines a measurement as follows: (more…)
Posts Tagged ‘false precision’
It is almost standard practice nowadays for presentations to use precise numbers that are computations from a spreadsheet or averages from a lot of surveys, or that are calculations from various models, plans, or estimates. In many cases, authors use numeric representations that imply much more precision than they should. Even though we know our planning process is only accurate to within 20%, we present multi-year contract prices for uncertain business endeavors down to the dollar (for example, $1,650,745). We claim that customer satisfaction has improved 23% when our survey is based on subjective assessments of 10 different customer satisfaction questions where the answers vary from 1 (very satisfied) to 5 (very dissatisfied).
An appreciation of basic statistics is also crucial to accurate communications. This topic is under-emphasized in our schools compared to its importance in everyday communications. Presenting relative and absolute measures makes a big difference in communicating information credibly. For a pragmatic treatment of this topic, see How To Measure Anything by Douglas Hubbard. Most numeric measures take on two forms: an absolute value (a quantity of something) or a relative value (a measure of one quantity relative to another quantity). Relative values, usually presented as percentages, are commonly used to express two things: (more…)