A common and challenging decision problem in the oil & gas industry is to decide how to explore an oil field. Typically there is a cluster of prospects, giving rise to a highly dependent set of uncertainties, according to their proximity and the geology of the area. For example, if you drill a well at one site and strike oil, it's more likely that a nearby prospect will also have oil. If you drill a few "dry holes", you'll probably give up on the field rather than throw good money at potentially poor prospects. This makes intuitive sense, but until recently it was tough to model in a decision tree.
"…the problem with resource allocation isn’t ignorance of its importance—83 percent of executives we polled named it as the most critical management lever for spurring growth." - McKinsey (Where, how much, and how: Answering the hardest questions of resource allocation)
And yet, McKinsey and Company go on to point out that a third of organizations included in a survey reallocate just 1% of capital from year to year. Whether you're talking about money, talent, or time these precious, finite resources tend to be handled by management teams with far too much safeguarding and rigidity -- leaving them in the dust of those who pursue a more deliberately dynamic resource allocation strategy.
As a market leader in decision analytic tools, we confidently stand by our claim that DPL is the most powerful, full featured application for decision tree and influence diagram modeling on the market today. DPL offers a dedicated, standalone graphical modeling interface for performing decision and risk analyses, Monte Carlo simulation, and Real Option valuation. The tool's flexibility and intuitiveness allow you to model the characteristics specific to your decisions with a precision unmatched by our competitors.
Syncopation's recent Fed Rate Hike promotion not only offers you an opportunity to save money on new or upgraded licenses of DPL, it also gives us a platform to discuss important decision making principles, like the value of information.
One of the most powerful facets of a Decision Analysis approach is the ability to explicitly calculate the value of information so one can make an intelligent choice about whether or not to buy it. If you've read our blog before you should already know the following wisdom about VOI:
After much ado the Federal Reserve decided to maintain interest rates at their current levels this past Wednesday -- which wasn't much of a surprise to most. The Syncopation team saw an opportunity to drum up the drama surrounding the Fed's upcoming November meeting by offering potentially huge savings on DPL licenses, with the amount of savings depending on the outcome of the FOMC's Nov 2 meeting. As a bonus, we're also providing a quick lesson on the value of imperfect information through our promotion. Read on for all the details.
The DPL maintenance update 8.00.14 is now available for download. It includes the following:
BUG: Invalid node data after changing a conditioned value node to a discrete chance node (#2010)
BUG: Spurious "too few initializers" error running a model with init links (#2001)
BUG: DPL may stop responding compiling a model with hundreds of DDE linked nodes (#1997)
CHG: Default stack size increased to 16M (necessary for some very complex model structures)
Ears always tingle in the decision analytics community when a mainstream publication talks about the things we do, and last Friday, the stimulus was provided by this article in the Wall Street Journal on Monte Carlo.
In an earlier post I argued that the #1 cause of downward project revisions in portfolio analysis is a phenomenon called "winner's curse", whereby the error in estimating project values, together with screening criteria, results in more negative surprises than positive ones. In this post, I'll talk about the #2 reason (which might be the #1 reason in some portfolios).
Deploying a fully integrated PPM System within your organization doesn't have to be expensive, time-consuming, or painful! Embed Syncopation Software's DPMX System into your resource planning processes and start reaping the benefits a straightforward, cost-efficient portfolio analytic system backed by rigorous decision analytics and robust data management tools can bring to your team and portfolio.
The management science news of the week is that Howard Raiffa has died.
Raiffa was one of the founders of the field of Decision Analysis, and indeed of Game Theory and Bayesian Statistics.
In a previous post, Chris expounded on the methods for generating good tornado diagrams. It's relatively straightforward to create a meaningful tornado for a business problem defined by a few symmetric quantitative chance events (i.e., the kind with 10/50/90 assessments and Low/Nominal/High outcomes).
In this space we often write about the do's and don'ts of probability assessment and working with uncertainty in general. One of the most fundamental don'ts is that you should not use words to define probabilities. You should more than avoid it, you should never do it. A 15% chance of something happening is exactly that: a 15% chance. Write it as 0.15 if you like, but don't call it a "moderate risk" or say it "probably won't happen".
Are you a die-hard decision tree fan? Well then you've landed on the right blog. Let me first say that we here at Syncopation (publishers of class-leading decision tree software, DPL) have always prided ourselves on the fact that DPL's modeling interface offers a unique synergism of a Decision Tree and an Influence Diagram. We still hold those sentiments, but during the development of the latest DPL release we came to the realization that for certain users and/or decision-problems the Influence Diagram might be better off taking a backseat.
A topic of considerable lament in portfolio management circles is the frequent downward revision of project valuations. Anecdotally, it just seems like news tends to bring the project value down more often than it pushes it up. Senior management often views this as something sinister, a sign of deception or flawed execution: "Last year you bozos told me this was a blockbuster!".
In our tireless commitment to advancing decision quality through superior analytic tools, we at Syncopation are always working at the leading edge of applied decision science, striving to be the first to bring you innovations that will change your practice for the better.
The limits of conventional decision trees
Have you done work in decision analysis that was truly exceptional, either in its quality, impact or degree of benefit to the stakeholders? Why not share your experiences with your peers and be recognized for your contribution?
The Decision Analysis Society of INFORMS conducts an annual competition to recognize outstanding use of decision analysis in solving actual real world problems.
There's a handy feature in DPL for displaying risk profiles in an intuitive way: the "decumulative" switch. Decumulative doesn't sound all that intuitive, but it is when you see it. Here's a typical risk profile displayed in decumulative form:
The PowerBall lottery recently reached a record jackpot – after not having been won since November. Tickets to play the lottery cost $2 each (though there are some multipliers you can add on for a couple extra bucks) and the odds of winning the record-smashing $1.5 Billion jack pot as of yesterday were a minuscule 1 in 292 Million (you can read more about the mathematics behind the lottery in this Wired article here).
The DPL maintenance update 8.00.12 is now available for download. It includes the following:
Nearly one year ago Chris blogged about Elon Musk's
honest estimation of the likelihood of soft landing the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket for future re-use. After two previous failed attempts, SpaceX succeeded Monday (you can see this video of it here
) -- a space exploration game-changer. With recyclable rockets in play, costs incurred by future missions are greatly reduced.