THE INC. LIFE

NASA Offers the Most Pathetic Reason for Dumping a Great Idea (and You May Be Doing the Same Dumb Thing)

If you don’t think ahead and support all your employees, you’re wasting money and opportunities.

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BY Erik Sherman - 28 Mar 2019

nasa dumping idea

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

NASA may face criticism at times for data on global warming or people wondering what earthly use space research can provide. (The list of benefits lots of technology spinoffs that have helped launch new products and companies. Just in case you're an entrepreneur looking for an idea.) But the organization rarely gets dinged for not thinking ahead.

It does now. According to reports today, well-received plans for the first all-female spacewalk in human history are now off. The astronauts are fine. The space station is fine. The space craft is fine. It's just that NASA ... ran out of spacesuits in the right size. They had enough for one of the two crew members--Anne McClain and Christina Koch--but not for both. So only one can go out at a time.

By the way, the event was supposed to celebrate Women's History Month. In a way it did, with what the women might need being forgotten. If that's not real women's history, I don't know what is.

The whole thing sounds like a terrible joke, but this is reality and hardly just at NASA. And most assuredly not only about women.

Managers too often are, pardon the term, space shots. They get excited about their great ideas and tell everyone to go, go, go. Which is great, but have they provided everything for the get up and go to travel somewhere?

Idea are nothing without proper execution, which takes thought, care, and consideration. You must be sure that the equipment is there. That people have the right training. Preparation includes giving thought to the employees about to do a job as individuals and not as faceless identical replacement units.

If you expect sales, you'll need the support materials and marketing for a full campaign. Want a new product to ship on time? Don't demand that engineering and design work ridiculously fast to push something through without enough testing only to find that you need a massive recall. Keeping customers happy won't happen because you send out a loyalty card that does next to nothing for them.

Business, as life, is a complex set of intersecting paths and interacting needs. Skipping proper planning doesn't save time. Instead, it costs over and over again, driving up expenses and pushing back on deliveries. The spacewalk for NASA could have been a PR coup. Instead, it was an utter flop because no one asked ahead of time, "Do we have spacesuits that will fit both of the crew members?"

Such oversight comes ultimately from laziness and assumptions. Of course, there are enough suits. We keep multiple spacesuits on the International Space Station. See? They fit all the guys over there.

People wonder what executives and managers are supposed to do. Here's a good example. They think ahead, ignore "let's all be enthusiastic" buffoonery, consider where things might go wrong, and plan according. They radio up to the space station and ask what size suits are available.

That's what you have to do with your business. Be the boring person who actually cares about the little details, as they make the difference between whether your ideas work or not.

 

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