Antifragility as a means to utilize uncertainty in product development decisions

Jos de Lange, Eric Lutters, Denzel Kennon, Corné S.L. Schutte

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review


    Decisions are the common denominator of any product development cycle by fostering and consolidating the product definition, the requirement specification and the design rationale of these cycles. Such decisions are generally arduous as they are often based on incomplete information and always involve significant levels of uncertainty. This ubiquitous influence of uncertainty is characteristic of any product development cycle. Habitually, this influence is regarded as predominantly negative, so trying to mitigate uncertainties seem the obvious thing to do. However, uncertainty is not by definition detrimental or undesirable. In essence, it is hardly more than a common characteristic of any activity, decision or result in product development cycles. Primarily, uncertainty in product development should therefore be regarded neutrally. In this respect, the notion antifragility not only assumes such a neutral stance, it relates uncertainty to the response of a system – in this case an evolving product development cycle. By means of this theory, this paper aims at addressing and utilizing uncertainties with regard to the impact that decisions have on the product development cycle. The resulting solution principles allow to assess the potential impact of decisions and to determine and evaluate the desired behaviour of the product definition on various types of uncertainty. Simultaneously it allows for rigorous evaluation of both the quality and veracity of design decisions, aiming to make uncertainty instrumental in governing product development cycles.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationInternational Conference on Competitive Manufacturing (COMA 19) Proceedings
    EditorsDimiter Dimitrov, Devon Hagendorn-Hansen, Konrad von Leipzig
    Place of PublicationStellenbosch
    Number of pages6
    Publication statusPublished - 30 Jan 2019
    EventInternational Conference on Competitive Manufacturing, COMA 2019: Knowledge valorisation in the age of digitalization - Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa
    Duration: 30 Jan 20191 Feb 2019
    Conference number: 7


    ConferenceInternational Conference on Competitive Manufacturing, COMA 2019
    Abbreviated titleCOMA
    Country/TerritorySouth Africa
    Internet address


    • Antifragility
    • Product development
    • Decision making


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