Matrix Methodology

George W. Hoover (1915-1998) was a U. S. naval officer and pilot who became a leading force at the Office of Naval Research (ONR). Hoover helped originate the use of high-altitude balloons to conduct atmospheric studies in Project Skyhook and was later a project director in the field of high-altitude flight and involved in developing the X-15 rocket-plane. He also worked with Werner von Braun to launch the USA’s first satellite: Explorer I. In addition to those accomplishments, Hoover was awarded for his pioneering innovations related to avionic and aeronautical devices representing breakthroughs in human factors engineering. Three years before his death, Hoover admitted his involvement in the technology transfer that followed the Crash at Roswell in 1947. 

What most interests PluribusOne™ Consulting is that George Hoover is also credited with developing and applying a certain fact-centered matrix methodology that guided him to the “truth that stems from fundamentals,” regarding each project. 

Hoover said, “Research and development has been closely associated with the ‘ivory tower’ concept or with the idea that there is something strange and mysterious about trying to solve a difficult problem. There is also the idea that only a chosen few are capable of solving problems, and that in order to belong to this ‘society,’ one must have a very extensive, formal education along with enough experience to be classified as an ‘expert.’ I am not suggesting that formal education is not good, but that we must be aware of the danger that many good ideas are often ignored because experts are certain that these new ideas won’t work. [Also,] engineers and doctors speak different languages and relatively few of either discipline make a strong effort to bridge the gap. What was needed was a common denominator—a new language.” 

“Matrix methodology” was his response to that need. Matrix methodology is a simple, systematic, analytical approach that concentrates on clearly defining a problem, or requirement, according to a framework of parameters. Parameters within matrices serve to delineate all possible contributing factors toward creating what amounts to a master checklist. His thinking was that any difficulty can be overcome by defining all aspects of the problem thoroughly. “When the fundamental requirements of any problem are established, the solution becomes apparent,” he said. 

In employing this matrix methodology, Hoover always began with two assumptions: (1) that out of all possible solutions only one was right, and (2) that nothing presently exists to solve the problem. The second assumption was intended to prevent making any judgment until after the problem has been completely stated. His process had five steps: (1) be uninhibited—goals are not deadlines, (2) state the problem in terms of fundamentals, not in terms of what has previously been accepted, (3) build the program around the whole man-machine system rather than improve on a set of existing sub-systems, (4) form a cohesive team, not just a group of subcontractors, and (5) use a method that allows for accurate prediction of success before designing the hardware. 

PluribusOne™ does not see Hoover’s approach as being an actual common-language methodology having broad application so much as a set of guidelines that he found useful in freeing the life-sciences aspect of aerospace systems from prior domination by the physical-sciences—systems are meant to serve man, not man to serve systems. By contrast, our Noetitek™ system of common denominators is a meta-Rosetta Stone that would have aided Hoover at every stage of each application of his philosophy and methodology.


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