Making Design Decisions Using Choosing by Advantages

Kristen Parrish1 & Iris D. Tommelein2

1Project Scientist, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, 1Cyclotron Road, Mail Stop 90R1116, Berkeley, CA, 94720-2117, [email protected]
2Director, Project Production Systems Laboratory ( and Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, 215-A McLaughlin Hall, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-1712, Phone +1 510/643-8678, FAX +1 510/643-8919, [email protected]


Choosing By Advantages (CBA) is a sound system to make decisions using welldefined vocabulary to ensure clarity and transparency in the decision-making process. Making sound design decisions aids in successful implementation of set-based design. This paper explores the use of CBA to select a design for steel reinforcement, aka. rebar, in a beam-column joint. CBA, in conjunction with set-based design, allows the engineer to explicitly consider multiple design alternatives that meet various ‘must’ and ‘want’ criteria. The factors and criteria developed to evaluate the design alternatives reflect the values of the various project team members involved in rebar design and construction. Because decision-making is subjective, it is important to document why and on what basis decisions are made so they can be revisited at a later time on that project, should new considerations or facts become available, and on future projects. Decision-makers using CBA list the attributes and advantages (the beneficial difference between two alternatives) of each alternative and then assign a degree of importance to each advantage relative to the one that is least preferred. The example presented herein shows that team member values may conflict, but including all perspectives in the CBA table enriches the decision-making process and cultivates a shared understanding among project team members.


Choosing By Advantages, group decision making, set-based design, reinforced concrete design.



Parrish, K. & Tommelein, I. D. 2009. Making Design Decisions Using Choosing by Advantages, 17th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction , 501-510.

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