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Pareto principle at work in design

by mel starrs on March 1, 2007

in Uncategorized

I came across this article (10 pages, pdf) from 1996 via RICS (Royal Institiute of Chartered Surveyors). The article is “Improving the quality of conceptual structural design: A neural network approach“, which no doubt sounds very dull to most readers.  Glutton for punishment, I forged ahead and found some nuggets in there (I’m actually looking for quotable references for the dreaded MBA dissertation).  My favourite was this:

over 80% of the overall cost of a project is determined by the first 20% of decisions taken

Those who have spent any time in training courses will recognise this as the Pareto principle.  This is simply the best argument I have ever heard for getting conceptual designers (structural engineers, building services engineers, etc) on board before those first 20% of decisions have been made.