Make your product development wishes come true, with a powerful new innovation tool… 

 November 2, 2018

By  Howard Cooper

Which of these innovative secrets do you wish you’d known and used, last year?

1. How to immediately overcome technical system conflicts, systems engineering requirement gaps, design constraints, critical failure modes, safety hazards, weight and producibility problems, etc., rather than waiting months or years for the epiphany. 

2. How to manage disruptive innovations that can disrupt your sales plan and damage or destroy your company. Or,

3. How to predict and characterize the next ‘big thing’ your customers will adopt and embrace, before your competitor does.

If I could grant you just one wish, which would it be? If I could grant that one wish, over and over again and consistently then which of these three wishes would be most important? 

OK, Let me grant your wish, with the greatest discovery of my working career…

I am Howard Cooper. I help systems engineers, system analysts, makers and product development specialists to start developing 15X more ‘hits’ than ‘misses’ and often do it in 1/3rd the time, with what I call PDD™, Principle Driven Development. 

I recently spent six years helping General Dynamics, a U.S. Defense & Aerospace company develop tools for their innovation center. With these tools I helped product design and development teams come up with innovative solutions to their technical requirement gaps, parameter conflicts and other seeming  unsolvable system problems. I did this by inviting the development team into a one-hour meeting to play what we called the  ‘Innovation Game’. Using a tools I had developed, the development team could quickly look up the correct principle to solve the problem they had been describing for months or years as “unsolvable”. Over that six year period, I helped 26  such project teams to solve their “unsolvable problem” with this tool-set, I now call the PDS-Generators™, Principle Driven Solutions-Generator. These improvements helped them;

  1. Gain compliance to customer requirements and pass all checkpoint reviews,
  2. All 26 improved components and systems were then adopted by our customer, the U.S. Army,
  3. All 26 were put into production and are now saving the Army $233  million, over the legacy systems they had been using.

But, what’s up with management…

Too often what I hear from systems engineering managers and project managers is, “Just help these guys get their artifacts turned in.” ‘Nothing about adding value. “Just tell the engineers and the ‘ilities’ to explain why they don’t have any requirement gaps.” “Help them complete their FMEA and Safety Hazard Analysis but don’t show any “Reds”, because we need those artifacts for the upcoming customer checkpoint review.” Or they would state, “These are ‘deliverables’ under the contract. Just get ‘em turned in.”

It seems management isn’t really interested in improving functionality, reliability, safety, or quality. They just want to hear, “We’re good enough.” “We’re in the Green. So, lets move forward.”

However, I kept looking for ways to improve the system and for ways do my job quicker and more efficiently, so I would have free weekends to spend with the family, go play on the boat, or go have paint-ball wars with the guys. Rather, my spare time was consumed trying to “deal with” these technical problems, assessments and requirement gaps, without really solving them’. “Just prepare these engineer’s story for the next checkpoint review!”

Do you know managers that can’t accept it when there are risks? They shop around for the answer that says there isn’t a risk. Yet, you know these risks and failures can often delay and in other ways double or triple the cost of a project. ‘Even torpedo the project. Do you know managers that dismiss making improvements with the excuse it will be; way too expensive, take up too much space or weight, or cause schedule slip? Do your eyes occasionally pop open at 3:00 AM and you find you are in a cold sweat, worrying about needed requirement changes, or requirement gaps they are not addressing?

I know that whole frustrating story, so well.

Biggest discovery of my engineering career

But, then in May of 2010, I discovered a Secret that changed all that!

I applied this new discovery in my very next working group start-up session. We were talking about a reliability requirement gap we had reported as closed years ago, but now, critical failures were happening in the field. And, the engineers had been struggling with this problem for eight years. They had tried various corrective actions, but the problem kept occurring. This was a perfect chance to try my new discovery. I asked the group four questions. The questions guided us to properly describe the problem (took about 17 minutes). They were then able to identify, from a look-up chart or “cheat sheet” I gave them, 3 or 4 principles that might best solve this kind of problem. As they read over these principles, the team began talking powerful possibilities. Credible concepts and in the next 18 minutes they came up with two concepts that would totally solve their problem.

In our next one hour meeting we had time to do some Pugh analysis (trade study), comparing the advantages and disadvantages and costs of these two new design concepts. One concept offered a 4 to 1 part count reduction and a 4 to 1 assembly labor cost reduction over the legacy design and over the other new design. Their solution was adopted by our Customer, because it way surpassed the reliability requirement (easily closed the requirement gap). It was put into production and is now saves the U.S. Army $658,000 per year in reduced failures and logistical support costs. ‘Not bad for a couple of hours of initial effort.

So, I began improving and expanding on this cheat sheet tool, now called the PDS-Generator! A tool the engineers could use to do the same thing, without me, without any books and without any special software. They were able to use the tool in any conference room or cubical to solve system technical problems, close requirement gaps; eliminate design constraints, critical failure modes, safety hazards and other system challenges! And, that kicked my career into high gear. Word got out about these one-hour innovative problem-to-solution sessions we were holding, playing the “Innovation Game” with this new tool. 


I continued studying innovation methodology and building ‘innovation tools’ Management began specifically requesting me to work on most new problem/solution projects. Use of these tools expanded, my pay went up. My annual bonus more than doubled and I was given company stock options that paid of big time, 187% return, just a few years later. Possibly the biggest benefit I saw, personally, was job security during years of Sequestration cut backs. My manager even told me, “Don’t worry about these layoffs. You are one of 3 key employees I really need.” At previous companies I thought “lay-off” might be my middle name. But, now I watched while our department shrank steadily to less than 1/3rd its original size.

‘Want to know my secret discovery and see the PDS-Generator in action? Read on…

And Then What?

We began solving problems that had haunted us for years—and we were able to generate solutions in short, one-hour sessions! Thus the name,  “Innovation Game”. It was fun.

That’s when everything shifted, for me. Attitudes throughout the department and the company lifted as soon as they saw these short innovation sessions working. This was truly unlike everything they had seen before.

It set my career direction. I continued to study innovation methods and tools that can help engineers, system analysts and innovators during each phase of concept development, to product development, requirements verification, through manufacturing and validation testing. I found seven unique innovation methodologies discovered and written about since the 1960’s. These seven methods can be integrated and employed properly at each phase of your design and development process. This PDD™, Principle Driven Development system is shown in the drawing below. It provides a framework to manage, generate and propel product development,  Innovation Centers, as well as incremental engineering improvements.  It can also be used to avoid recalls and eliminate FRACAS field failures. (of course, earlier is much the better than later.)

Can it really make a difference?

After this 6 year period working with General Dynamics and  helping the 26 product development teams, mentioned above. I realized the significance of that whole experience was not that we saved the U.S. Army $233 million, nor that we were able to quickly solve problems and close requirement gaps. The significance of that whole experience is that we had 26 successes and 0 failures! We had reversed the 80/20 Rule of failures, where only one out of five products developed succeeds with the customer. And, if we succeeded 26 times successively, maybe you can too.

I became recognized as a fun to work with problem solver (a productive contributor). My salary increased, and then there were the stock options I mentioned earlier. But, I finally said, “Enough!  I have to get out of here!” (out of the big company). I need to start sharing this new PDD system of tools and procedures with the world”. 

I took early retirement, in Sept of 2016 and my wife and I moved across the country to enjoy more of the grand-kids. Enjoying so many historical sites along the way, I was reminded, again, what a great country this is! God bless America!

I now enjoy sleeping in when I feel like it and not having to walk past the bosses office every morning, worried if I’m 3 minutes early or 3 minutes late. But, the real excitement of retirement has been documenting, improving and getting PDD ready to launch and ready to share with you.

I enjoy being my own boss, again (well, there is still the wife). I love writing about and sharing these innovative PDD methods and tools, so we can all help “Make America great again!”

So, let me grant your wish…

I can now help your team select the PDD tools to best and most quickly eliminate or mitigate your engineering challenges. And, I can help you install your own PDD system customized to your particular process.

PDD serves as a Vehicle (iVehicle) to carry you and your organization 25X faster along the raceway of innovative product development and to develop improved products your Customer will adopt and embrace.

PDD employs 7 critical methods and is the biggest discovery of my career…

Master the 7 subsystems (seven key methods) of PDD so you can start developing 15X more hits than misses and often do it in 1/3rd the time:

1. Use Open Innovation – the iVehicle (or PDD) Fuel System – So you don’t have to reinvent the ‘wheel’ and without losing your ‘big idea’ nor your IP,   Intellectual Property.

2. Discover Structured Innovation – the PDD iVehicle Engine – so you can predict and characterize the next innovation your customers will embraced, before your competitor does it.

3. Learn Vector Innovation – the PDD iVehicle Drive-train – So you can put together the right team mix with the proper process, depending on your problem type, to transform the good ideas (energy) coming from the ‘Engine’ into finished products ready for market, rather than letting great ideas get lost in the cracks, die in committee, or killed by company politics.

4. Install Diamond PM – thePDD iVehicle Steering – So your projects and your company are steered toward innovative improvement and value creation, without going over budget nor missing milestones.

5. Minimize Edison’s Experimental Innovation – the PDD iVehicle Wheels – Go twice the distance on only half the rubber (cut labor and validation test costs by 60-80%) by improving your ‘Suspension’ (Nicola Tesla modeling).

6. Apply Closed Innovation – thePDD iVehicle Suspension – Nichola Tesla method for working alone and to trigger your Innovation Quotient (IQ). Protect your intellectual property. Minimize experimentation with visual, mathematical and DOES computer modeling.

7. Manage Disruptive Innovations – the PDD iVehicle Brakes – for your safety and control – So you can successfully identify and navigate around market disruptions, disruptive Innovations and needless new technology traps.

You can now master these 7 methods, become a truly effective innovator and learn from the 12-books, 10-authors and 7-methods of PDD. Apply these tools and principles on your own technical problems, system requirement gaps and engineering challenges. Transform your success rate and your career by implementing PDD. Build your own iVehicle to create, manage and drive innovative solutions 25X faster, rather than bleeding ‘red ink’ while you watch 8-out-of-10 projects fail. (the 80/20 Rule) ‘Stay away from Edison’s R&D model of brainstorming and “experimenting on everything”.

How Can I Help?

Your team can, now, get advice, training, workshops and project guidance. Depending on my current commitments, I may be able to guide you and your product development specialist and systems engineers to integrate PDD into your development process and become Certified PD-Innovation Specialists, PD-Innovation Engineers or PD-Innovation Director. I look forward to being a valued asset to your PDD efforts. PDD will help manage and propel your Innovation Center and your entire product development and systems engineering team.


The Applied Innovation Exchange, in San Francisco, reported there are 100 new Corporate Innovation Centers being built during 2018. But, a 2-year study by Capgemini Consulting Group, in 2015 reported “84% of innovation centers set up since 2005 have already failed! (the 80/20 Rule). “If we keep doing what we’ve always done, we will keep getting what we’ve always got.”  Maybe PDD should have been their shift and transformation to success? Is 80/20 a fixed, non-reversible rule, even if you have the right tools? Case-in-point: Of the last 26 PDD Projects I worked on, how many failed? – None. Respond quickly and I may be helping you integrate PDD into your culture, into your system engineering and product development process and into your organization’s DNA.


Register now to attend our 45 minute online Webinar Master Class “Innovation vs PDD – How to Reverse the Product Development 80/20 Rule of failures.” 

To Register for this free 40 minute Master Class, click here

About the author

Howard C. Cooper is a Design for Six Sigma Black Belt, Systems Engineer and founder of i3DAY Innovation. Over the past decade he coached 26 different product development teams at General Dynamics through solving their most critical challenges; design constraints, safety, reliability, etc. All 26 design and development projects were accepted in critical design peer reviews. All 26 were adopted by the U.S. Army, currently saving $233 million per year, over the legacy systems they had been using.

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