Soundview Executive Book Summaries

A Giant Leap with No Equal

This week marks what I personally consider to be one of the most important moments in human history. There were others that came before it. Yes, once upon a time we figured out how to breathe underwater. We also discovered how to harness electricity to create light and heat. We managed to lift our feet from the ground and soar with powered flight. All of these innovations are impressive and should not be undersold.

But in our jaded age where information moves as quickly as the trends it produces, let’s pause for one moment and consider July 20, 1969. All of the above marvels I’ve described are impressive, but they were all contained by the boundaries of the gravity and atmosphere of Earth. By contrast on the date in question, mankind safely stood on a world other than his own. Throughout history, for the millennia in which men and women stared up at the night sky to see that glowing orb, no one could have conceived of the thought that one day someone would stand on its surface and look back at the blue sphere he left behind.

Perhaps what’s more impressive is that those voyagers returned safely. This is due to the incredible combination of skills and teamwork on the part of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). NASA’s approach to teamwork has been studied, scrutinized, and even heavily criticized (in the wake of the 1986 Challenger disaster). It’s also the subject of a new book: How NASA Builds Teams: Mission Critical Soft Skills for Scientists, Engineers and Project Teams. Charles J. Pellerin, a former NASA astro-physicist, details the “4-D” team-building process he created to help NASA’s various technical experts form more cohesive, productive teams. It’s important to note that this book is not sanctioned by NASA, but this does little to take away from its excellent content.

While we can’t as yet reveal our plans in relation to this book, needless to say it’s publication comes at a critical point, as the government re-examines the space program. I, for one, remain hopeful that the teamwork and dedication which led us to land safely on the moon will one day help NASA to make an even greater leap.


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