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Research and Development for Man-Machine Systems

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1 Author(s)
Hoover, G. ; Air Branch, Office of Naval Research

The fallacies of present methods of Research and Development are discussed, and it is explained why these methods are being used today. It is posed that research itself needs researching. Inhibited thinking is charged with the predominant responsibility for limited research productiveness. Lack of imagination, fear of ridicule, desire to invent at the exclusion of facts, schedules and resistance to tool changes, and too much reliance of experience-these are given as the most important causes of inhibited thinking. The author warns: not to justify compromises, not to rely on luck, and to stop modifying modifications. Stating the problem in its fundamental terms is illustrated by an interesting story. An analogy to the story is provided by the present complex design of aircraft instrument panels. A methodology is suggested for conducting research and development by establishing a program of uninhibited thinking-- a long-range effort seeking ultimate solutions. Seven basic aims and accomplishments of the program are outlined. Examples are shown where breakthroughs have occurred by using this approach. (Slides were used in the verbal presentation for emphasizing certain points and to show examples of equipment developed from an exemplary program.) It is also pointed out that an interim program can make use of the "rake-offs" from the long-range program. (The talk was supported by a film which showed how this methodology was used in the development of aircraft instrumentation.) Five accomplishments of this specific program are listed. The author concludes that when something doesn't fit, don't just get a bigger hammer--instead, state the problem in its fundamental terms before trying to solve it.

Published in:

Production Techniques, IRE Transactions on  (Volume:5 ,  Issue: 1 )