FIRE, Dan Ward - Book Summary

FIRE outlines the 4T method to help you embark on a new innovation. 4T sets the limits for you to achieve the most groundbreaking results.

The book for

  • Team leaders or project managers;
  • Entrepreneurs start up with creative ideas;
  • Businesses looking for a team management approach.


Dan Ward is an author, consultant, and engineer with three engineering degrees and twenty years in the United States Air Force. He recently launched a consulting service to help clients reduce costs, time and effort when implementing reform projects.

Management by method 4T

Project management is a challenging job. You have to deal with many issues such as budgets, supplier contracts, schedules or team morale. If you are lucky enough to work with a familiar project, you can consult ideas and anticipate some possible arising from previous projects. But if you want to develop a new and unprecedented plan, things will become much more difficult. To help you complete your project with the highest quality, in the fastest, most efficient way possible, we offer a new approach: 4T – Speed, Economy, Acquisition and Minimalism.

In long-term projects, it is sometimes difficult to keep track of progress and results. If you want Speed , break the work into parts and complete them in turn according to the set deadlines. This means that you have to be independent and stick to a strict schedule. Doing it fast does not mean doing it recklessly, be careful from the beginning otherwise doing it again and again will only cost you more time and effort.

Savings can be made by maintaining a limited budget. Before throwing money at a certain item, use your brain to make the most of what you have. Saving does not mean cheap, poor quality goods, but it means you have to use it as efficiently as possible.

Acquisition is tantamount to control. Regular meetings, small group activities or closed budgets help you keep everything in your hand, so you can minimize the unfortunate risks.

Finally, Minimalism. Simple projects, if executed smoothly, are more effective than complex ones because they are easier to execute and the results are more guaranteed.

Identify the specific problem to find the general requirement

Just type a question into Google, it will show you loads of answers. Creativity is the same, first you have to know what you want to ask first.

To find a solution to a specific problem, start by generalizing it. The Russian TRIZ creative problem-solving method can help you in this. TRIZ can solve any technical problem in four steps. The first step is to define the specific problem. Second, generalize it. Third, find a common solution to the big problem. Fourth, use generic solutions to develop a specific solution to your own problem.

For example, your specific problem is that you want to design a larger engine to help the plane fly higher and farther, but the weight is too heavy to make the plane impossible to take off.

In general, the problem lies in the power and weight index of the aircraft. If you've found a general answer to this problem, you'll be able to apply it and solve your own question.

You also need to determine what is the most basic need. You don't always have the resources to fulfill all of your wishes, so consider and choose the most important requirement and fulfill it.

Strictly following a fixed sequence and limited budget

Have you ever tried to cook according to a recipe in the book, adding to taste this, omitting the other, and the end result is not as shown? Sometimes it's better to stick to the original recipe. Launching a new project is the same, once you have a fixed schedule and budget, try to follow them.

In 1981, American engineers began to work on a stealth fighter called the F-22 Raptor to deal with Soviet technology. The project was successful, but in December 2005 – many years after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The source of this delay was when the designers extended the time by six months. Because they want the product to be perfect, they persistently tweak it until they are really satisfied. However, this process entails a lot of costs and affects the progress of the entire project. The result is a snowball-like delay, the bigger the roll the bigger the product, and the final number goes up to ten years.

Learn from this experience, resolutely follow the schedule and budget set. Don't try to stuff all the features into the product if you don't want to make an F-22 again.

While scientists were wasting their time with the F-22, another invention quickly got ahead: the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). It is the clearest example of the 4T method with the sole function of monitoring and the production cost is not too large, only about $ 60,000.

NASA innovates only when necessary

When you think of “creation,” you probably think of something very complicated and expensive. But not with NASA, they focus on simplifying and speeding up, innovative ideas are only added when really needed.

In 1999, NASA started a spacecraft project called "Stardust" with the hope of collecting dust particles from the tails of comets in the galaxy and bringing them back for research.

The development team completed it on time and at a cost below the budget set by NASA. How did they do? The team's mission requirements are clear, the members focus on the three most important tasks: reach the comet, collect 1,000 dust particles and bring them back to Earth. Other purposes such as comet photography exist, but are secondary to the above three focuses.  

The success of “Stardust” demonstrates the importance of innovative focus on specific requirements. NASA may have worked on the project from the very beginning, but wanting to keep it simple and at the same time as budget-friendly as possible, they used many parts that were developed from previous projects. In fact, the only true innovation is the airgel dust collector, with the rest of the parts being reused.

Eat less

Simply nice! The simplification not only saves time, money and effort, but also brings more satisfactory results.

Google's Chromebook is an example: it only has the most popular Google features like the search engine or Google Drive. Although it was possible to integrate countless other features into this computer, Google did not do so, they understood that adding a few cumbersome things was not enough to make up for the cost of time and resources spent. out.

To balance the “just enough” complexity, you need “stormdraining” – the extraction method. In contrast to brainstorming to come up with more new ideas, stormdraining focuses on removing features that do not really bring significant benefits. The balance between complexity and simplicity is different for each project. Try removing a feature, if the product still works, continue to remove the second, third, .. feature until it is not possible to separate any more features and still ensure the product operates smoothly. .

This process requires quite a bit of time and creativity, but is much more efficient than running a cumbersome and expensive project!

In short, remember to look at the project carefully – cut out the resource-intensive parts that don't bring significant efficiency and focus on developing the features you really need.


Main message

Effective innovation focuses energy and resources on the most essential tasks. You need to work fast, save money, keep everything under control, and keep it as simple as possible. By adopting the 4T approach, you not only complete the project on time, but also have better quality results.