Book Review by Paul J Whitehouse
Chapter one; recounts the early development of Value Engineering, drawing some interesting Japanese analogies & concludes with plea to South African Political leadership to see the need & as a group apply Value Engineering principles to address the needs of a new democracy.
Chapter two, a fascinating narration of good & bad human characteristics that will be found in all environments across the globe, in this case those that were ensconced within Union Carbide, the organisation for whom Keith worked at the time.
Chapter three describes breaking out of the big organisation to work for himself, & seeing his future direction, the typical workshop is generically described & the value of such indicated.
Chapter four, an anthology of references, initially one could consider dated, are in fact as relevant as ever & while reviewing thought to myself, that I must go back in my own library & re-read some of there references.
This chapter also reflects some fundamental decision-making/thinking as well as the philosophy of Value Engineering & relates van Heerden’s first meeting with Dr Don Beck (Spiral Dynamics).
Chapter five; the way we default think & how we should be thinking is discussed, & here we are shown the Value Engineering process in action, while these have changed somewhat since the eighties, the basic methodology remains germane & coupling this to the realities of human dynamics van Heerden shows his total commitment to the process.
Chapter six; a short but comprehensive expose of cost, you will recognise much of it, but the reminder contextualises & is well worthwhile.
Chapter seven; a series of workshops are recorded, these include process but go further to include the real world of human interaction, a sentence particularly caught my eye, “by Thursday exhaustion was setting in, van Heerden brought in crates of beer & soon we were feeling better again” doesn’t that paint a picture? The value of a multi-disciplined approach is made clear.
The application into many diverse fields emphasises Value Engineering scope of application, you will likely find relevance whatever field you operate in.
Chapter eight; recounts visits to Japan, which served to indicate the significance the Japanese gave Value Engineering, using it to become a World player following their WWII devastation.
The potential for South Africa to learn from such environments is emphasised.
Chapter nine; a simple two page bibliography, while not precisely conventional in presentation, one would be able to locate literature of specific interest.
Chapter ten; a CV, along with what might be considered a postscript of despair at the rejection of Value Engineering thinking by the South African government, perhaps we are being obligated by van Heerden to pick up this challenge & hold high the torch of Value Engineering.
Conclusion; this is very much a twentieth century book of Value Engineering in South Africa from the mid sixties to the mid eighties, it will also be seen as one individuals account which at time becomes a little overindulgent, however, an unashamedly spiritual van Heerden gets his point across & these are good points, we are aware that we should be learning from history this is a good book to do just that. Much of the thinking contained therein is still very relevant.
Please note that the indicated price excludes VAT when purchased in South Africa, postal and delivery costs.