Flexibility in Engineering Design
Project teams can improve results by recognizing that the future is inevitably uncertain and that by creating flexible designs they can adapt to eventualities. This approach enables them to take advantage of new opportunities and avoid harmful losses. Designers of complex, long-lasting projects—such as communication networks, power plants, or hospitals—must learn to abandon fixed specifications and narrow forecasts. They need to avoid the “flaw of averages,” the conceptual pitfall that traps so many designs in underperformance. Failure to allow for changing circumstances risks leaving significant value untapped. This book is a guide for creating and implementing value-enhancing flexibility in design. It will be an essential resource for all participants in the development and operation of technological systems: designers, managers, financial analysts, investors, regulators, and academics.
The book provides a high-level overview of why flexibility in design is needed to deliver significantly increased value. It describes in detail methods to identify, select, and implement useful flexibility. The book is unique in that it explicitly recognizes that future outcomes are uncertain. It thus presents forecasting, analysis, and evaluation tools especially suited to this reality. Appendixes provide expanded explanations of concepts and analytic tools.
About the Authors
Richard de Neufville is Professor of Engineering Systems and Civil and Environmental Engineering at MIT. He was Founding Chairman of the MIT Technology and Policy Program.
Stefan Scholtes is Dennis Gillings Professor of Health Management and Academic Director of the Centre for Health Leadership and Enterprise at the Judge Business School, University of Cambridge.
—Gregory Baecher, Glenn L. Martin Institute Professor of Engineering, University of Maryland
—Arnoud De Meyer, President and Professor, Singapore Management University
—Michael Haigh, Managing Director, Mott MacDonald Middle East and South Asia
—Lloyd McCoomb, President and Chief Executive Officer, Toronto Pearson International Airport
—Ray O'Rourke, KBE, Founder and Chairman, The Laing O'Rourke Group