Unit 7: Drivers of Flexibility, Video 1: Five Main Drivers—Uncertainty is Most Important | Summary and Q&A

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September 28, 2022
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Unit 7: Drivers of Flexibility, Video 1: Five Main Drivers—Uncertainty is Most Important

TL;DR

Flexibility in engineering decision-making is influenced by uncertainty, economies of scale, discount rates, learning effects, and competitive gaming.

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Questions & Answers

Q: Why is uncertainty a key factor affecting the desirability of flexibility in engineering?

Uncertainty in future events makes it impossible to optimize for one particular state, necessitating flexibility to accommodate different possibilities. Flexibility allows for adaptation to changing circumstances and minimizes the impact of uncertainty on decision-making.

Q: How do economies of scale impact the decision for flexibility in engineering projects?

Building larger capacities can be more cost-effective per unit, making smaller, uneconomical units of capacity less desirable. This may create a preference for immediate action rather than delaying decisions for flexibility.

Q: How does the discount rate influence the consideration of flexibility in engineering decisions?

By delaying decisions and building capacity in the future, costs can be discounted, making it cheaper to build at a later date. This creates an incentive to postpone actions and prioritize flexibility.

Q: What is the role of learning effects in the discussion of flexibility in engineering?

When a design or module is repeated, the cost per unit often decreases due to organizational and design improvements. This incentivizes flexibility by allowing for learning and improvement over time.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Flexibility in design and management decisions involves delaying actions until certainty is established.

  • Factors for flexibility include uncertainty in future events, potential economies of scale, discounted future costs, learning effects, and strategic competitive advantages.

  • Factors against flexibility include the desire to optimize for known conditions and the risk of making mistakes by delaying decisions.

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