Sunday, October 28, 2012

ReTHINK:Lead with passion

"The moon landing would be viewed as a triumph of innovation and teamwork, yet the landing might never have happened—certainly not by the end of the 1960s—had it not been for one man’s vision eight years earlier. On May 25, 1961, in a Joint Session of Congress, president John F. Kennedy set forth the vision confidently and unabashedly: “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.

No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind.”1 At the time, few people knew exactly how a moon landing would be accomplished or whether it could even be done at all. Thousands of tasks, decisions, and problems had to be worked out. Rockets had not been built or designed, computers were not up to the task, and nobody knew how to keep astronauts alive in space. Kennedy’s grand vision was short on details but bold enough to set forces in motion.

“By the tens of thousands, men and women who heard the call signed on to participate in an exciting and intoxicating goal, a purpose that would give their lives meaning and leave an indelible mark on humanity.
Big, bold visions have a way of inspiring teams. The people who worked on the Apollo program would need serious inspiration to face numerous setbacks, some quite tragic. On January 27, 1967, a spark lit an oxygen container on Apollo 1, and it “burst into flames, killing three crewmen instantly. Apollo 1 was destroyed before it even left the ground. The tragedy taught NASA some valuable lessons. Scientists redesigned the space capsule based on what they had learned. The goal was clear, and it so thoroughly captured the imaginations of thousands of scientists and engineers that they came up with solutions for every problem.

Kennedy adviser and speechwriter Ted Sorensen once said that man did not reach the moon because Kennedy wanted it done. Rather, people were intoxicated with the vision of space exploration. Kennedy gave it life and, by defining a specific goal and timetable, marshaled the collective innovative genius of thousands of the brightest minds. The moon program proved that anything is possible when a team of smart, dedicated people commit themselves to a common goal. For innovation to happen in any field, the person with the idea must inspire others to help transform the idea into a functional product, service, or initiative.

“One NASA engineer said that the vision of going to the moon took such hold of his imagination that he never wanted to fall asleep, because he could not wait to return to work the next morning. He had become a believer, an evangelist. Inspire evangelists and watch your ideas take off”.