HarperCollins Speakers Bureau

Dan Ward

Noted Military Technology Expert


  • F.I.R.E. 101: How Fast, Inexpensive, Restrained and Elegant Methods Ignite Innovation - A story-filled, funny yet practical presentation on how constraints ignite innovation
  • The Simplicity Cycle: A Field Guide to Making Things Better Without Making Them Worse
  • Faster, Better, Cheaper – Revisited: Powerful innovation lesson from NASA's low-cost space exploration missions



Dan Ward served for more than 20 years as an engineering officer in the US Air Force, where he specialized in leading high-speed, low-cost technology development programs and retired at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. After hanging up his combat boots, he launched Dan Ward Consulting LLC to help clients reduce the cost, time, and complexity of delivering world-class innovations. Ward is the author of F.I.R.E.: How Fast, Inexpensive, Restrained, and Elegant Methods Ignite Innovation (HarperBusiness) and The Simplicity Cycle: A Field Guide To Making Things Better Without Making Them Worse (HarperBusiness).

Ward's fast-paced, story-based presentations showcase his trademark blend of fun pop-culture sensibilities and deep engineering expertise. Leveraging his experience as a military technologist and incorporating his extensive research into NASA’s low-cost space exploration missions, Ward offers humorous and practical insights that show audiences how to produce best-in-class, world-class new products in a fraction of the time and expense of traditional approaches. With The Simplicity Cycle, he introduces a powerful framework for managing complexity and equips the audience with a visual vocabulary to foster effective discussions about simplicity with clients, colleagues, and customers.

A popular conference speaker (SXSW, Lean Start Up, etc), Ward has also given guest lectures at universities in the US, UK, and South America. He testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee and the British House of Commons, and his expertise on innovation has been recognized by the White House. Dan’s writings have appeared in a variety of outlets including Fast Company, Forbes, Harpers, The Boston Globe, Armed Forces Journal, Small Wars Journal, Time Magazine’s Battleland blog, the Pakistani Army’s magazine Hilal and the British Army Yearbook.

Ward holds three engineering degrees and received the Bronze Star Medal for his service in Afghanistan leading an international team of officers from five different countries. He is a Senior Associate Fellow with the British Institute for Statecraft and a Non-Resident Cybesecurity Fellow with the New America Foundation. He lives in Massachusetts with his wife and two children.


Praise for The Simplicity Cycle

“If I could ask my clients to read one book before we work together, it would be The Simplicity Cycle by Dan Ward… It’s simply brilliant.”
--Peter Morville, President of Semantic Studios

“In The Simplicity Cycle Dan Ward presents a straightforward graphical way of looking at design that is both easily grasped and profoundly enlightening.”
--Henry Petroski, author of To Forgive Design and The House with Sixteen Handmade Doors)

“The Simplicity Cycle’s combination of powerful tools and memorable case studies makes it an essential addition to any innovator’s book shelf.
--Scott Anthony, author of The Little Black Book of Innovation

“For those who seek a graphical tool to simplify or modify product design and consumer services, Ward’s book can become a valuable resource. The theory provides a structure to see where and why complexity goes awry and causes destruction instead of goodness.”

Praise for FIRE

“This is no ordinary book about product development. Sure, it draws on the wisdom of such great philosophers as John Cleese, Inigo Montoya, and Tom and Jerry. But it also makes a compelling case that none of us can design anything without revealing our values.”
--Dan Pink

“F.I.R.E. will appeal to project managers, space enthusiasts, military and tech buff s, and anyone who’s ever hired a plumber or general contractor.” (Success Magazine) “Ward blends a maestro’s range of intriguing stories with intensely practical guidance. Don’t let the references to Mr. Bean, Quantum Leap, and Firefly fool you. F.I.R.E. is a deep, powerful contribution to the innovation literature.”
--Scott Anthony, author of Little Black Book of Innovation

“Dan’s refreshing philosophy promotes more effective defense acquisition and offers lessons for commercial products as well. His book helps liberate good judgment.”
--Bernard Jenkin, MP (Harwich and North Essex), and chairman, Public Administration Select Committee

“Large projects tend to fail. Dan Ward offers a simple solution: Don’t do them. With the time and money allocated for one large project, do numerous small ones. It’s a well-known principle, but it goes against the nature of organizations that wish to solve all their problems with one project. For anyone even remotely associated with large projects, this eminently sensible, highly readable book should be required reading.”
--Don Norman, author of Design of Everyday Things

“Dan Ward’s book is essential reading for those who want to know how to bend the cost curve without degrading effectiveness. With insight and humor, Ward draws lessons from defense and space to show that cheaper does not always mean inferior.”
--Howard McCurdy, American University

“Dan Ward’s F.I.R.E. is a minor miracle. A fast, fun, funny read on running procurement and technical processes, it is packed with insight, cutting through common wisdom to deliver rules of thumb that should be a must-read for any project manager.”
--Dr. Rachel Kleinfeld, founder, Truman National Security Project

“For decades we have paid more and more for defense technology and gotten less and less in return. Dan Ward’s F.I.R.E. approach establishes commonsense principles with great promise—if we will only apply them.”
--Maj. Gen. Arnold Punaro, USMC (ret.), chairman of the National Defense Industrial Association and member of the Defense Business Board

“The writing style in F.I.R.E. … 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.”
--John Brandon, CIO.com

"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.”
-- Jack Covert, 800 CEO Read

“This thought-provoking book, developed with a military perspective, offers valuable insight for those striving for innovation in their business activities."
--Mary Whaley, Booklist