Beyond space flights, engineering and science, NASA is a beacon for leadership and innovation, having inspired people all over the world for decades. So, if you are looking for business advice, Harvard isn’t the only name to put on the map.
There is a business side to NASA that you may very well benefit from, and we have broken it down into four key business lessons.
Table of Contents
Lesson 1: Nurture teamwork
As a business owner or project manager, you must know your team members well, make them understand their role and encourage them to work together closely.
As Jerry Madden, former Associate Director of Flight Projects at NASA, once said, “Projects require teamwork to succeed. Remember, most teams have a coach and not a boss, but the coach still has to call some of the plays.”
Always keep your team in the loop and make business objectives clear, even if you might think at first that a certain decision does not concern them. Keep everyone informed and make sure they inform each other as well, because people need to see the greater picture, not just their tiny piece.
Lesson 2: Safety comes first
When talking about safety, the first thing that comes to mind is physical integrity. In this day and age, cybersecurity is a close second. But did you ever acknowledge that a supply chain is only as strong as its weakest link?
NASA has learned this the hard way, with the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster which, unfortunate and tragic as it was, stressed the importance of such a small thing as o-rings in aerospace.
Always choose reliable suppliers who have perfected their craft, regardless of the resource type you need. Every little piece matters, and through extensive testing and improved supply chain management, disasters can be avoided.
Lesson 3: Analyze results
Collect as much data as possible on your processes, establish key business metrics and performance indicators, and always study the results. This is the only way you can actually improve your business: constant data collection and pertinent analysis.
As a performance-based, results-driven organization, NASA presents its approach to performance management on a yearly basis.
Lesson 4: Celebrate accomplishments
In order to boost positivity and create a motivating work environment, it is important to acknowledge individual and collective efforts, give praise where it is due and celebrate the success of your projects with everyone involved. Even small, team-specific objectives are to be tracked — at the team level — and their accomplishment should be celebrated over a business lunch.
Remember NASA’s Perseverance landing on February 18th, 2021? What about the genuine happiness and overwhelm of all the people in the mission control room? This is what success feels like, and everyone should tap into that joy of their efforts being rewarded.
Key takeaways from NASA’s success
Now that you know how NASA operates in large, put these business lessons to good use in your own practice, master them and continuously optimize your strategies and processes along the way.
Constantly nurture your teams and help them collaborate better, make the supply chain a priority and choose reliable suppliers in all aspects of your business, stay goal-oriented and focused on results. And don’t forget to raise a toast for your wins.