Anything with the word “NASA” attached to it instantly conjures up phrases of “rocket science”, “aerospace engineers”, “scientists” and “astronauts”. But many of you may also imagine “Star Trek” and “Star Wars”, works of imagination and science fiction, as far removed from the reality and practicality of the scientific and technologically advanced aura of NASA as can be. Or are they? NASA is about space exploration, the need to discover the unknown and to create the instruments and vehicles to make such exploration happen. But before such technologies can exist, you need imagination, ideas, creativity, innovation, and dreams.
Such is the beauty of the TEDxNASA event, where aerospace engineers, musicians, artists, authors, innovation consultants and neuroscientists come together to explore what it means to be creative and innovative. Steve Shapiro, our VP of Strategic Consulting, was one of the presenters to speak about innovation. His session was titled "Open Innovation for Rocket Scientists"
This six-minute presentation is packed with humor, insightfulness and a compelling argument for looking outside your area of expertise for the big breakthrough solutions to your problems: someone else may have solved your challenge. He cites an example where he asked a printer cartridge company “Who has solved this problem,” the problem being, “Who has sent something to the customer and they have returned it?” The answer, when you see the video, was a little unconventional.
Steve’s session reminds us about the power of experiences. It is not always those with the traditional educational qualifications and expertise who have all the answers, but those that have had experiences in similar scenarios and the ability to connect the two seemingly divergent situations who can contribute to the solution. The key, Steve stresses, is to make connections to different areas. Creative people are those who have more experiences and ideas and are able to connect the “dots”. Some of the most creative solutions really aren’t rocket science.