Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Systems Engineering


Department of Systems Engineering and Management

First Advisor

Dennis B. Strouble, PhD


In order to understand why organizations make certain decisions and target certain outcomes, it is useful to understand their priorities and preferences, commonly referred to as “values.” This research explores the relationship between the technical values held by system development teams and the operational effectiveness of the systems those teams produce. Specifically, it examines the impact of a value set called FIST (Fast, Inexpensive, Simple, Tiny) on DoD and NASA system development projects, and investigates the correlation between the FIST values and operational outcomes. The findings show that the FIST value set enhances project stability, increases the project leader’s control and accountability, optimizes failure, fosters “luck,” and facilitates learning. These benefits of the FIST approach all support the goal of ensuring the organization delivers systems which are “available when needed and effective when used.” FIST is therefore recommended as an effective approach to system development, and several heuristics are provided to facilitate understanding and application of these values.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number