Working In Uncertainty

Other useful websites

There are some very interesting and diverse sources of information out there on the web. Here are some I like that are relevant to Working In Uncertainty.

  • The Society for Effectual Action is an interesting group focused on entrepreneurial behaviour and a lot of what they say is driven by the uncertainty involved. Not surprisingly, some of this is about the value of taking action, learning, and keeping the cost of failures low. A less familiar but key observation is that entrepreneurs generally do not identify a worthwhile problem then try to find a solution. Instead, they start with a solution and look for people with a problem it could solve.

  • Blog for the book Judgement and Decision Making by David Hardman, has lots of short research summaries and interesting points. Be careful it doesn't distract you with its intriguing summaries of recent research.

  • The Triad approach to decision making for hazardous waste sites goes far beyond what you might expect. This is really interesting material and well thought through. It combines what it calls 'systematic planning', 'dynamic work strategies', and 'real-time measurement systems' in a way that shows clearly how uncertainty in decision making can come together in a project to drive a lot of the work done. Brilliant stuff and the principles could be applied to lots of other types of project.

  • Project Management Guru Ray Sheen writes on project management and this particular article has a useful analysis of projects based on the uncertainty around their objectives and content. Ray tells me that in his experience less than 10% of business development projects have clear objectives at the outset, but where things go wrong is when the team thinks the objectives are set but they're not, or when the team thinks the objectives are not set and dithers instead of getting on with the project and planning to clarify objectives as part of it.

  • Robust Decisions offers a lot of material on decision making under uncertainty, including practical applications of Bayesian methods to business decision making. The author is David Ullman.

  • The Beyond Budgeting Round Table has been waging a small war against budgetary control systems for quite a few years now, but they're making progress.

  • Professor Sam Savage has done some useful and entertaining work on putting uncertainty into planning and decision making. One recent and important development is the idea of Probability Management, which allows people doing forecasting and decision support in different parts of a large organization to work separately but pool their results, in such a way that correlations between their forecasts are captured, not lost. This is a breakthrough and now supported by more than one spreadsheet tool.

  • Marc Thibault's blog contains a short but useful article on how to include uncertain events in a project plan model, and so 'bake risk management into the plan' as he puts it. The downloadable demonstration spreadsheet also uses technology designed to support Probability Management, but it is not necessary at all to use this kind of technology to model events in a simple way. I also like the way his list of tasks is shown as a Gantt chart on the spreadsheet. It's simple but effective.

  • Stephen Cresswell's website contains two useful papers. One is about a simple method of approximating the effect of multiple uncertainties in project planning, while the other gives Probability-Impact Grids another good kicking. Stephen works in project risk management in the UK.

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Words © 2011 Matthew Leitch