The focus of Modeling for Insight is on modeling new and ill-structured problems from scratch when there is no existing procedure to follow. This is an aspect of modeling that has received very little attention in existing books or courses. Most business analysts are familiar with using spreadsheets to organize data and build routine models. However, analysts often struggle when faced with analyzing new and ill-structured problems.
Some people claim that this most creative aspect of modeling cannot be taught but can only be learned through experience. We disagree. We know that real expertise in modeling requires both breadth and depth of experience and cannot be acquired solely from a book or course. However, that does not mean modelers cannot improve their skills in any way other than through experience. As with most skills, learning solely through experience does lead to improvement, but the rate of improvement is often very slow and bad practices can be learned just as well as good ones. Many people learn most effectively through a combination of experience and structured study. We believe the methods presented in this book can help you dramatically improve your modeling skills if you take the time to work through the chapters slowly and carefully and if you continue to practice and develop your skills after you complete the book.
Microsoft® Office Excel® and PowerPoint® are used throughout the book, along with the add-ins Premium Solver®, Crystal Ball®, and the Sensitivity Toolkit. Detailed appendices guide the reader through the use of these software packages. All the spreadsheet models discussed in the book are available for downloading at this website.