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Flexibility in Engineering Design (Engineering Systems) [Print Replica] [Kindle Edition]

Richard de Neufville , Stefan Scholtes
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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  • Print ISBN-10: 0262016230
  • Print ISBN-13: 978-0262016230
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Book Description

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.

Editorial Reviews


"Planning for large-scale infrastructure systems is a problem as monumental as the systems themselves. De Neufville and Scholtes present a powerful and innovative new way of thinking about this persistent challenge. It should compel any engineer, planner, or policy maker involved with mega-projects to rethink how we conceive future systems and how we develop strategies for their realization. It is a significant advance."--Gregory B. Baecher, Glenn L. Martin Institute Professor of Engineering, University of Maryland

(Gregory Baecher)

"De Neufville and Scholtes convincingly show us that enhancing flexibility in engineering design can help us a lot to improve our performance. Anchored in their research, the book is an easy read because both authors are also excellent pedagogues who take the reader step by step through some difficult materials. This book is a real must read for anybody involved in big scale projects."--Arnoud De Meyer, President and Professor, Singapore Management University

(Arnoud De Meyer)

"This book is an important reference for those involved in planning infrastructure or building projects. It uniquely tackles the fact that uncertainty hangs over our planning of infrastructure development. Frequently we don't appreciate that building flexibility into future use may create the best value. The authors bring together the theory with practical examples to create a book which will help to reshape the thinking behind our approach to investment in our built environment."--Michael Haigh, Managing Director, Mott MacDonald Middle East and South Asia

(Michael Haigh)

"Forecasts are a necessary part of planning major capital projects. The problem is these forecasts are almost always wrong. It is very important to recognize this truth and even more important to shield projects from the potential downsides of an uncertain future by building in flexibility. Professors de Neufville and Scholtes have provided a clear and practical guide, well supported by specific examples, on the science of identifying, justifying, and implementing flexibility in design."--Lloyd A. McCoomb, President and Chief Executive Officer, Toronto Pearson International Airport

(Lloyd McCoomb)

"With this book, de Neufville and Scholtes have tackled the issue of flexibility in engineering design head-on, producing an essential companion for current and future engineering leaders. It is both a motivating and practical analysis of the power of flexibility to intelligently manage risks and seize the benefits that, in my long experience, are inherent in all major projects."--Ray O'Rourke, KBE, Founder and Chairman, The Laing O'Rourke Group

(Ray O'Rourke)

About the Author

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.

Product Details

  • File Size: 8882 KB
  • Print Length: 312 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press (August 12, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008TV4SDW
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
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  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,012,237 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
De Neufville and Scholtes have written a very useful book that is already being widely cited and having considerable influence. It is part manifesto and part practical guide, and does a great job at both. The 21st century will be the most dynamic and chaotic in human history. Anyone who thinks we can effectively forecast without large error possibilities is kidding themselves. This book is about how to respond to that challenge at the design stage. I teach from and learn from this book, for applications to large-scale real estate development and urbanization projects (such as what is depicted on the cover of the book!), and I highly recommend it as such.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Two rigid thumbs up for an excellent book on flexibility! November 25, 2013
This is a very impressive book by all standards including writing style and content. Duly recognizing that the world’s processes are inherently probabilistic and thus outcomes never occur with full certitude, the authors present a lucid and compelling case for the need to incorporate flexibility in decision-making. Thus, in their book, they present a detailed description of techniques and tools that identify, evaluate, or implement flexibility. Overall, the authors have provided, through this book, a clear roadmap to incorporate flexibility at any of the key phases of engineering system development – planning, design, construction, and operations.
It is of little surprise, therefore, that this book has quickly earned the enviable reputation as being one of the few engineering classics that are consulted by engineers, systems managers, financial analysts, capital planners, and investors to help develop effective and robust decisions for systems not only in engineering but other disciplines as well. I found the book to be immensely useful in my teaching and practice as an engineering professor and consultant, and I vouch that it will be very helpful to all engineering practitioners, researchers, and academics.
Definitely a must for every shelf … and for every i-pad!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Since the end of the Cold War the US military has struggled to meet the challenges of an ever changing national security environment while experiencing the devastating consequences of bad forecasts. For today's defense planners and acquisitions professionals there is a growing understanding for the need to design greater flexibility within the force structure and "in" major acquisitions programs. In this book, de Neufville and Scholtes provide a practical approach for thinking about flexibility and systematically demonstrate how these ideas can be applied to large projects. The revolutionary ideas presented in this book could greatly enhance the way we design, develop, acquire, and deploy the military systems of today and the future.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book February 19, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Neufville allows to lector understand every concepts relate to flexibility and real options in projects. I recommend this book from theoretical and practice perspectives.
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More About the Author

Richard de Neufville is a Professor of Engineering Systems and of Civil and Environment Engineering at MIT, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He lives in Cambridge next to Boston.

He is an international leader in the field of systems planning and design. He is known for his innovative applications to design across many fields particularly Airport Systems but also including transportation, aerospace, petroleum and mining industries, military systems,real estate, and large-scale infrastructure.

Active internationally, Richard has been involved in projects "on all continents except Antarctica". He has held appointments and enjoyed sabbaticals in many universities -- University of California Berkeley, Harvard, Cambridge, Oxford, London Graduate School of Business, École Centrale de Paris, École Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées, and the Instituto Superior Técnico of Lisbon.

He likes to row his single scull in the Head of the Charles Regatta and to climb in the Rockies and Sierras.


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