F.I.R.E.: How Fast, Inexpensive, Restrained, and Elegant Methods Ignite Innovation

Dan Ward

HarperBusiness, 2014

Agent: Sandra Dijkstra

Noted military technology expert Dan Ward's manifesto for creating great products and projects using the methods of rapid innovation.

Why do some programs deliver their product under cost, while others bust their budget? Why do some deliver ahead of schedule, while others experience endless delays? Which products work better—the quick and thrifty or the slow and expensive? Which situation leads to superior equipment?

With nearly two decades as an engineering officer in the U. S. Air Force, Dan Ward explored these questions during tours of duty at military research laboratories, the Air Force Institute of Technology, an intelligence agency, the Pentagon and Afghanistan. The pattern he noticed revealed that the most successful project leaders in both the public and private sectors delivered top-shelf products with a skeleton crew, a shoestring budget, and a cannonball schedule. Excessive investment of time, money, or complexity actually reduced innovation. He concluded the secret to innovation is to be fast, inexpensive, simple, and small.

FIRE presents an entertaining and practical framework for pursuing rapid, frugal innovation. A story-filled blend of pop culture and engineering insight, FIRE has something for everyone: strategic concepts leaders can use as they cast a vision, actionable principles for managers as they make business decisions, and practical tools for workers as they design, build, assess and test new products.

“In many ways, this book written by an active-duty Air Force officer reads like a military training manual — and that's meant in the best sense possible. An opening example of how the Air Force used Sony PlayStations to make a low-cost supercomputer make his points about project leadership crystal clear: Leadership is about finding workable solutions to tough problems. The writing style in F.I.R.E., due for release April 29, is well-honed and comfortable, like a pair of military-issued boots at training camp. Most important: Ward gives real-world examples of how to put his leadership strategy into action.”
“Far more enlightening and enjoyable than a regular management book and also avoids cheap and easy shots at recent DOD challenges F.I.R.E. should be required reading for anyone who develops, supports, or uses military technology, whether they are in the military, government, or industry. There are also important insights for national security leaders, law- and policymakers, and anyone concerned with improving DOD acquisition outcomes. But really F.I.R.E. has broad appeal for anyone who wants to build technology successfully or is just curious about why people find steampunk so appealing.”
FP Magazine
"There is an immediate sense, as you begin reading F.I.R.E., that author Dan Ward knows exactly who he is, what his message is, and to what type of reader his book is going to appeal. As such, there is a confidence and conciseness to his book that inspires a kind of instant camaraderie…the application of his advice is actionable by anyone with an interest in innovation."
Jack Cover, CEO of 800 Reads.