Tag Archives: solutions

HOW TO WARD OFF DISRUPTION!

Know how to ward off Disruption?  It takes a special kind of person to be inspired by a mandate riddled with risk and having little margin for error, such as the one issued in the early 1990s by NASA to its Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California: “Take risks but don’t fail.

Meet Brian Muirhead, who at age 41 accepted the job as flight systems manager of the Mars Pathfinder project and with it the NASA challenge to land a cutting-edge, remote-controlled robotic all-terrain rover on Mars that would reliably beam back images, collect samples, and return scientific data on the red planet.

The only catch: he was given just three years and $150 million to do it.  No one in his or her right mind would want to manage the next Mars project, if indeed there was one.

Brian is a quiet, cerebral, and unassuming rocket scientist. Now chief Project Manager at JPL, he has a significantly bigger title,  less hair, and more white in his beard than when I first met him, undoubtedly as a result of his almost 42 years of intense involvement with high-profile missions in pursuit of JPL’s mission to push the outer edge of space exploration.

One of my all-time favorite stories from Brian is the one he told about the Pathfinder team’s approach to a “don’t fail” strategy. He tells how he was personally disrupted, by one of his daughter’s kindergarten projects. The teacher gave the class an assignment right up Brian’s alley: design a package that would protect a raw egg from being dropped off the school roof. It was an annual event, affectionately referred to as the Great Egg-Drop Challenge.

It was right up Brian’s alley for two reasons: not only is he an expert on momentum, but the radical solution enabling the successful landing of the rover on Mars on July 4, 1994 addressed essentially the same problem.

Brian had an answer in a snap, and coached his daughter in a rather conspiratorial way in order for her to arrive at the same solution, which involved a milk carton stuffed with newspaper.

Together they cut up newspaper, wadded it in the carton, put the uncooked egg in a plastic bag and set it on top of the loose packing. They tested it several times of their home’s high balcony to find just the right amount of padding to allow the egg to land safely.

The whole school gathered for the event. But it was not the teacher who did the testing. It was the school principal, who tested the designs not by dropping them straight down, but by throwing them in what Brian described as a “big, high, looping arc.” Get the visual?

Needless to say, Brian’s daughter’s egg was crushed, as was his daughter’s morale. Brian himself was devastated: here he was building a spacecraft to travel 300 million miles to land safely on another planet and he couldn’t even help his daughter design a landing device to protect an egg.

Brian realized a valuable lesson from the kindergarten experience, and applied it to the Pathfinder project: inevitable, unforeseen and disruptive forces could be the ruin of the project, so there had to be a way to mitigate their potential impact.

Enter what I call the “Gremlin” strategy. Interestingly, the Pathfinder team had just lost their fault systems engineer, so Brian asked another team member to fill the spot. His name was Dave Gruel, but he eventually was nicknamed “Cruel Gruel,” because he was the ultimate Gremlin.

The term “Gremlin” was popularized during World War II, and referred to an imaginary creature that creates problems in normally reliable hardware.

With the kindergarten experience fresh in his memory, Brian tasked Dave with duties beyond fault protection: he asked him to dream up all sorts of challenges to throw at the team. It turned out that Dave Gruel had a real flair for the role, and spent his days and nights devising ways to disrupt the project.

Brian urged them to be cautious, to think things well through, and to make sure they were making the right move. His words of warning went unheeded, though…the team was certain they had analyzed the situation thoroughly, and were ready to roll.

Except…the Gremlin had come in during the night.

As Brian tells it in High Velocity Leadership:

Running a couple of available calibration checks had shown something wasn’t right. Yet the attitude of some of the rover people, so cocky, so certain of their judgment, kept them from stepping back and questioning their decision.

I see this attitude all the time in speaking and doing consulting work with leaders and companies!

In the end, the Gremlin strategy was extremely effective in enabling the Pathfinder team to learn how to deal with uncertainties in a way that positively neutralized disruptive forces. It allowed the team to build robustness, speed, and flexibility into their implementation.

The application to business is clear. If you have a successful business, the chances are very good that somewhere someone is dreaming up strategies that may just throw you for a loop.

So why not beat them to the punch?

Take a page from the Mars Pathfinder story and set up a Gremlin group in your company. Charge them with putting you out of business in new and innovative ways.  Done right, it will not only ward off disruption, it will do more to build innovation capability into your organization than any highfalutin innovation program some big name firm sold you on. Mars Pathfinder didn’t need such a program, and neither do you.

What’s amazing to me is the level of passion, verve and vigor I see inside the Gremlin teams. The level of engagement is a full click above their engagement in their “real job.” Early indications are that this may be a wonderful new wrinkle to the trend toward internal innovation and startup mechanisms like incubators and accelerators, which have replaced the older “skunkworks” approaches.

As for Brian Muirhead, an individual fond of dramatic destinations, I have no doubt that he’s hard at work on his favorite answer to the “what’s next?” question he was often asked: “I’m working on a project that will attempt to land a spacecraft on an active comet and analyze it.”

So, if the word “disruption” is being uttered in the halls of your company (as it seems to be in almost every one I visit),  gather ye Gremlins, and go to work!

(Warning: brave heart, strong will, and intestinal fortitude required!)

More about Matthew E May:

Matt is one of those rare finds on the speaker circuit!  His innovative and creative interaction keeps his audiences engaged
and spell bound. He is the author of 5 New York Times Best-sellers, and his work has been featured in The New York Times, Fast Company, Strategy+Business, The Rotman Magazine, Success, Inc. Forbes, and Harvard Business Review blogs.  He has appeared on MSNBC,  Microsoft Small Biz Academy, and Business Rock Stars. He holds an MBA from The Wharton School and a BA from Johns Hopkins University, but he counts winning the New Yorker cartoon caption contest as one of his most creative achievements. Matt has a deep passion for ideas that solve a difficult problem in an elegant way. He defines an elegant solution as one that is both uncommonly simple and surprisingly powerful, and that achieves the maximum effect with minimum means. To hire Matt for your next event contact us at 888-766-3155 today or
go to Matthew E May

 

What’s Your #1 Excuse That Keeps You from Succeeding?

#1excuse

“The person who really wants to do something finds a way, the other person finds an excuse.” Anon

 

 

What is an excuse to you?  It is described by Webster as: “a reason for either doing or not doing something.”  Normally we think of it as “not doing something”, but it can also drive us into doing something a certain way as well!

What is your favorite excuse? We all have them, don’t we? Some of us, even more than one!  Are your excuses preventing you from reaching your full potential?

Know what the #1 Excuse is-as found by Alexis Sclamberg, a contributor to Forbes.com, and author of “Borrowed Wisdom”?

It is the- “I’m NOT _______Enough!  You fill in the blank with what you use!  Are you NOT: young enough, old enough, smart enough, good enough, rich enough, healthy enough, thin enough, strong enough, educated enough, or handsome or pretty enough?

We can all get caught up in the “I’m NOT Enoughs” but what are the solutions to not using them as an excuse?

Recently I did a survey asking others what their solutions were to overcoming this #1 excuse, and here is what I found:

•        read and gain information on how to face your “I’m not” and win!

•        find your Strengths and focus on them FIRST

•        surround yourself with others that do not live in the “I’m NOT’s”

•        find an accountability partner and meet with them at least weekly

•        clearly define your dreams and set plans in place to achieve them

These are some great solutions to the “excusing” of the “I’m  NOT”________ enough, don’t you think?  Do you have some others that you would like to share? I would love to hear them, just leave me a comment on this blog post.

Have a great “I AM ENOUGH” week!

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Sue Falcone- Owner
Simply Sue Speaks Global Booking Agency
www.simplysuespeaks.com  (new website coming soon!)

Are You Stuck? 6 Keys to Moving Forward!

stuckHow many times have you found yourself in situations where you are “stuck” in the moment?  It could be right now! How does it feel? You have hit a snag in your professional or personal life and you are paralyzed and unable to move on!  All you can dwell on is the issue and you can’t “let it go!” It becomes all you think about and you begin to beat yourself up, because it must be your fault somehow! It can make you angry, frustrated, and becomes the controlling factor of your life! You just cannot shake it!

I remember one of my favorite words of wisdom that the late Dr. Wayne Dyer shared was this:stuckwaynedyer

 

When we hit these rough and challenging times if we let it go far and long enough, they can stop us from reaching our full potential, and eventually cause us to give up and quit and live in the memories of regret!

I don’t want your business or life to ever get to the place where you want to quit or give up, because I have discovered 6 KEYS that will open your mind and heart, show you a direction to get back on track,  and keep you moving forward.

  • Admit to yourself you are “stuck!”  Write down what the issue is!
  • Walk away from the situation for a short while and focus on something else
  • Pray and meditate on the blessings that you are thankful and grateful for-write them down
  • Get some planned exercise- you would be amazed at what an hour of walking or Zumba will do
  • Now you are ready to share with a positive person in your life the real issue and let them help you reach a solution
  • Be thankful you went through this time- now you can prevent it in your future and be able to help someone else through it

We all can get “stuck” at any given time. It can surprise us and challenge us! Now we do not have to give in and let it destroy our joy, peace, and happiness! You are valuable and worth so much more than spending your time being “stuck!”

Sue Falcone
Sue Falcone

 

Owner: “Simply” Sue Speaks! Global Booking Agency

From “Me” to “We!”

relaunchpictureHonored today to be featured on Award-winning Podcast show-RELAUNCH with host Joel Boggess and wife Dr.Pei. I shared my journey and the greatest “ReLaunch” moment in my life that guided my professional path into becoming a “we” rather than stay a “me!”

I am blessed to have achieved many dreams and goals in spite of my background and the many obstacles I faced. We all have stories to share, but mine has brought me to a unique and interesting place to be.

I thought after my corporate career ended that I would be speaking and writing for the rest of my days! I love it, and I was able to have a great following, but I realized there were many talented speakers, presenter, entertainers, trainers, coaches, and authors, that needed help in marketing to the places they couldn’t seem to reach, and negotiate for them the fees they needed. Some had a busy schedule and needed someone to handle the details of booking that would allow them to keep doing what they love the best-being in front of the audience speaking!

I realized it was no longer going to be about “me” as the speaker and author; but I was going to create a company that would represent hand-selected talent and help them “be heard and seen!”  Little did I realize it would grow and expand and reach out globally!

I am content to stay off the stage, and help others get to their stage!  Today I got back on the stage, only to share that it’s not about me at all! It is the “we” of speakers, event planners and clients, that I can connect perfectly together for an awesome unforgettable and memorable experience that I want to leave as my legacy!  I invite you to visit our website here and explore the awesome talent that is awaiting to become part of your upcoming event. Be looking for new speakers being added and a new website design soon that will showcase them even more!  To book your next event with our speakers contact me at sue@simplysuespeaks.com.

Hope you will listen to my podcast at www.ReLaunchShow.com/257 , and put RELAUNCH on your Play List! Thanks again to Joel and Dr. Pei for having me, and I look forward to meeting them in person one day.

Sue Falcone
Sue Falcone

 

 

Are You Having a “Happy New “YOU” Year Yet?

new youHappy March 1st! We have completed the first two months of the awesome New Year, and how are “You” doing?  Have you made the changes you planned? Are you on track to be the best you can be? Or did the “winter fog” set in your mind, and you haven’t been able to shake it yet?

No matter the place you are in, there is still time to get on board and get to doing what it will take so that this time next year, you will be able to look back and say: “I am so glad I decided to ……………….. and now I am living better, and helping others do the same!”

Here are 3 Solutions to get You back on track:
1.      Make a plan every night for the next day- don’t just let life happen- live intentional
2.      Take 15 minutes every day and clear out the clutter- either in your mind, your work place, or your home
3.      Ask for help from others in the one area you are struggling-even if you have to pay for it, and listen and do what they tell you!

Look forward to hearing how you are living a New “YOU” Year!

HappyNewYOUYear

 

 

“Simply” Sue