Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield says that the first nine minutes of a space mission account for at least 50% of a mission’s risk, which is why the crew spends so much time asking themselves how they will react if there’s an inadvertent engine shutdown or a loss of staging rockets.
“A nice way to keep reminding yourself is: ‘What’s the next thing that’s going to kill me?’” he says.
Or course, most company teams don’t face such dangers, but that willingness to consider what risks are around the corner and how to deal with them is the right mindset for innovating, says Luis Perez-Breva, a research scientist at MIT’s School of Engineering and originator and lead instructor of the MIT Innovation Teams Program.
“What this illustrates is that despite feeling some panic when thinking about the risks, these astronauts set that aside and continue on with getting prepared for anything they might be able to predict,” Perez-Breva says.
He explains that being “productivity wrong” – such as the astronauts trying to determine what can go wrong – can benefit companies. Instead of trying to find only one best answer, they can think about the obstacles that they can work around – and figuring out how ideas can be wrong can be a great learning tool. He says too many companies fail because they simply haven’t thought about the potential pitfalls of a product or service.
Perez-Breva shares such insight in his new book, “Innovating: A Doer’s Manifesto for Starting from a Hunch, Prototyping Problems, Scaling Up and Learning to be Productively Wrong.”
He wrote the book after failing to find materials for his students (read more here)