“One small step for man, a giant step for mankind.” That was the word in the tabloids after Neil Armstrong took his first step onto the surface of the moon back in 1969. And the world of space travel was never the same. Since then, nobody has embodied the ideal of landing even more giant steps for mankind in the wilderness of interplanetary space better than the National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA) of the U.S.A., the brain and brawn behind the Apollo Launch that took Armstrong and his fellows to the moon.
But more than just sending rabbits in spacesuits to Mars, NASA has also proven itself to be an invaluable asset to the U.S. government and the world at large in monitoring weather patterns, mapping out the earth and helping to predict natural events, making it one of the most important agencies in the world. And there are some lessons for the ordinary businessman in there, on how a lowly agency in a dusty lab went from being just another alphabet agency to one of the most important in the world. Let’s take a look at some important business lessons you can learn from NASA.
1. Technology Is Key
Unlike a lot of other industries where private corporations are always more progressive in terms of technological adoption, NASA has always been at the cutting edge of technological advancements in the space industry. The best engineers, the best scientists all work for them, making sure they are supplied with the latest these brilliant minds can conjure in terms of technology. And this has made it easy for them to stay ahead of every other entity in the industry and establish themselves as a thought leader in the industry. Technology is key and your level of adoption of the latest tech advancements in your industry will have a profound effect on your ability to implement cutting-edge business practices, especially in this day and age.
2. Delegate Your Needs
Does NASA build all their own spacecraft? Do they manufacture aluminum coverings and tires for rovers and all that? No, they most certainly do not. Yet they certainly have the best equipment in the industry, because they delegate the production of these items to suppliers who have perfected their craft.
Let’s take o-rings, for example. A faulty o-ring can lead to the crashing and destruction of a space shuttle worth billions of dollars, as the world found out with the Challenger space shuttle disaster in 1986. Now, imagine if the same scientist that is busy calculating how far it is to Saturn is also the same person trying to measure the chemicals needed for making an o-ring. As small as this piece of equipment is, poor attention to its manufacture can cause untold disasters. And NASA has overcome this by creating a supply chain of certified experts in building components parts leaving them to focus on the bigger picture of how to explore space. Delegating will save you a lot of headaches, and allow you to focus on the bigger picture.
3. If You Can’t Win ’em, Work With Them
This might sound like a negative lesson from the perspective of an entrepreneur, but from NASA’s perspective, it holds a cogent lesson. Which is; not everyone will work for you but neither do they necessarily have to be your competitor. In the space industry, either you work for NASA, work with them or look forward to working for or with them. But they do not have a direct competitor. This is because they have positioned themselves as a leader. And leaders do not have competitors. If you can’t convince someone to join your camp, you can help them build their own camp and partner with them. This earns you goodwill and you end up still getting their services for your business. Win-win.
These are some of the most important lessons you can learn from NASA as an entrepreneur.