Failure is key for success, says NASA

13 Nov 2017

  • Innovation
  • Data

Making decisions with uncertainty is what keeps Jason Crusan, Director Advanced Exploration Systems at NASA up at night.

"How do we make those near-term decisions that don’t cause us to have bad outcomes in the future? And those outcomes could be a decade away.”

But the key to ongoing innovation and problem solving, according to Crusan, is testing – and more importantly, failing.

“We need to figure out where the failure points are and how far you can push something before it fails,” he says.

Crusan was one of the keynote presenters at ADMA Global Forum 2017, sharing some key insights and tips from the US space exploration agency. Following his presentation with sat down with Crusan to talk about data and innovation now and in the near future.

"Seventy per cent of the time we’re ignoring new ideas."

The difficulty in making sense of the immense volume of data available is not new to Crusan – a challenge he’s been working with for a while. NASA’s approach is not only breaking down the data available but also simplifying complex problems in order to find new solutions.

“The art of decomposing difficult problems is more important than problem-solving skills sometimes,” said Crusan.

In the data-driven age, new leadership skills are equally important, as companies are no longer in charge of their brands anymore. 

According to Crusan, “It’s a new style of leadership. We’re not leading everything – we’re actually letting go. Your brand is owned by your community, your customers, your stakeholders. So how do you embrace that lack of ownership of that brand?”

Setting up new processes is one of the steps to ensure innovation is recognised and encouraged, he says.

“Humans are extremely biased about innovation. Seventy per cent of the time we’re ignoring new ideas.”

For more tips and insights, check out the below interview with Jason Crusan.

Check out other Brightest Minds content from Global Forum 2017, and get in early for next year's event at a super early bird rate!

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