Going through some of our old newsletters, found this from July 2017 which raised a smile. The message remains the same whatever the time of year though!
July 20th marks the 48th anniversary of the moon landing by Apollo 11 and the iconic quote of “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”. Many of us will no doubt remember sitting in front of grainy black and white wobbly images that were beamed into living rooms around the world. It got us thinking of the variety of highs and lows faced by all Space programmes and how so many can be aligned to challenges faced in business:-
Apollo 13 – the sheer ingenuity and creative problem solving that the ground crew, and astronauts Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert and Fred Haise, used to get the stricken craft home safely. Allow your teams to think imaginatively and without constraint and who knows what they’ll come up with.
KISS Principle – Keep it simple, stupid – remember the story about the “no gravity pen” in the 1960s – all the inventiveness of answering a question that was simply solved by using a pencil! Sometimes the simple solution is the best. Don’t waste time reinventing the wheel if there’s a better alternative already available.
The tragedies and setbacks – Apollo 1, 1967, that could have derailed the whole space programme; Nedelin, the Russian explosion in 1960; Challenger 1986, Columbia 2003. All of them had the potential to halt space exploration, but lessons were learnt and changes made to ensure future launches would be safer. Learning from mistakes made is the valuable lesson for all evolving organisations.
The International Space station – Americans, Russians, French, Japanese, Canadian, British all now working together for a common goal. Let’s not forget it is that many decades since some of these nations were at war! Sometimes those who previously you were in competition with, or were seen as enemies can be your best collaborators.
Process mapping – the 1960s saw the introduction of using these types of pictorial representations of the sequence of actions that comprise a process in order to review different elements of the processes in place. A simple but effective means to analyse the processes in your business can not only assess them, but allows you to see where you can improve them.
John F Kennedy – described eloquently and imaginatively the vision for getting a man to the moon – “I believe this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon, and returning him safely to earth”. SMART target setting in action! Getting your message across, having everyone buy in to the vision, is half the battle. Specific, Measurable, Achieveable, Realistic, Time – his sentence emcompasses all 5.
Sputnik 1957; Explorer 1958; Gagarin 1961; Shepard 1961; Glenn 1962, – it doesn’t just happen overnight! The pace of business growth can vary and patience pays off.
Sir Tim Peake and Helen Sharman – the first British Astronauts who have gone on to inspire young people in the world of engineering and science – look to the future and work with schools, colleges, universities, apprenticeship schemes. Feed your succession and growth with enthusiastic young people who will reward you and your business with innovation, loyalty and expertise.
Many will be aware of the “Janitor” story, who, when asked by JFK what he did at NASA replied “I’m helping put a man on the moon”. Everyone in the organisation should be working to meet the end goal and whatever their role, not only are they a part of the vision, they should understand that they are and be proud in their contribution.
The Mayan Rabbit in the moon – did you know the Mayan culture believes that it is possible to see a rabbit in the moon? This is also supported by others including Native Americans and Chinese. As children we were often told to look for the man in the moon. It’s all about perspective – what one person sees, another just doesn’t get it. Sometimes no matter how clearly you explain the outline, your audience looks at your blankly but that doesn’t mean they’re wrong, they’re just seeing something different to you.
…..And finally, look for the positives in all things – in the words of Buzz Lightyear,– “this isn’t flying, this is falling with style”!