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When Prof Jordan Ellenberg came out with his best-selling book How Not to Be Wrong – The Hidden Maths Of Everyday Life it opened a new thinking about how it can boost commonsense. It holds several keys for managers grappling with the uncertainties of business and want to make sure their decisions are rational and do not always meet with failures. It helped reinforce a view that a knowledge of math and the thinking pattern evolved on the basis of it would certainly help CEOs take decisions that could be closer to being right.

A reading of the book will reveal how a decision-maker can reach conclusions that are more likely to be correct. Prof Ellenberg does not expect that the manager should be proficient in differential calculus to take the right decisions, but certainly an understanding of mathematical concepts would make him think better and more precisely.

When asked whether he thought there was any relevance to mathematics for practising managers, Prof Ellenberg told Polymers & Tyre Asia that there was indeed a great deal of lessons everyone can learn from it. “Of course! Managers certainly have a special need for the ability to recognise structure and pattern and, just as importantly, to avoid falsely recognising structures and patterns that aren’t really there.”

On leveraging maths literacy to run a company, he says it is very important to have a mathematical sense in managing company affairs. “I think it’s very important to create an atmosphere where as many people as possible are willing to engage with things in a mathematical or quantitative way,” he said. “The ‘nerd in a box’ model, where everything mathematical is quarantined into one section, is not in the end a mathematical way to run a company.”


(Full text in PTA October/ November issue)

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