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The Story of Monte Carlo

Monte CarloOnce upon a weekday meeting, I had a story to tell.  It was the tale of a project manager, who’s name really rings a bell.

He quantified the total project cost, he didn’t miss a dime. He also computed the schedule, he was always aware of the time.

He used all these input values, with random amounts being his friend. He ran these simulations.  I thought they would never end.

The outcome was a distribution, a bell curve if you like.  On the edges we saw some low points, in the middle there was a spike.

Monte Carlo was this fellow’s name, he was a heck of a numbers guy.  We asked him if he ever made things up.  He said he would merely quantify.

Now don’t think Monte worked alone, he had a counterpart.  Her name was Jane Stake-Holder, he worked with her from the start.

Jane could be quite demanding, sometimes ignoring project scope.  But Monte managed the situation well, knowing creep was a slippery slope.

His technique was well documented, a change would make everything slip.  He told this to Jane Stake-Holder who you’d think would do a back-flip.

But numbers don’t lie and neither did he, Jane knew Monte would put up a fight.  She backed down and submitted a change request, the schedule would extend to the right.

Graphic: Pictofigo

About Derek Huether

I'm Vice President of ALM Platforms at LeadingAgile. Author of Zombie Project Management (available on Amazon). Novice angel investor.

2 Responses to “The Story of Monte Carlo”

  1. Anonymous
    September 12, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    I knew a chap named Taleb, who squashed a bell curve until it skewed. “Uncertainty modeled with a normal distribution, I don’t think so dude!”

    He said, “We’re not rolling dice here, not all variances are just as likely. The black swan may eat you when you’re not looking, and also when it’s not timely.”

    • Anonymous
      September 12, 2010 at 11:00 pm

      Josh, looks like I have a new book from Audible to add to my wish list! The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb will be in my head within the week.

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