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What the Space Race Teaches Us About Insight and Innovation

What can the space race tell us about Getting to Insight?

This month marks the 50th anniversary of the first manned space flight. Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin rocketed into space on April 12, 1961 – the first man in space! Astronaut Alan Sheppard became the first American in space just three weeks later on May 5, 1961.

Werner von Braun, the German rocket scientist leading U.S. space efforts at the time, said it best: “To catch up, the U.S.A. must run like hell.”

Plan and Execute Insightfully

The more insightful the innovation the greater the competitive advantage. The Russians knew it. America knew it. Russia’s ability to out-innovate was the deciding edge in the race to put a man in space.

In recent weeks, I’ve shared examples of leaders at each phase of Getting to Insight. Insight is the catalyst of innovation. Today, let’s look at the seventh step: Planning and Executing Insightfully.

Steps for Getting to Insight
1) Mission-Orient 

2) Clarify Intention

3) Gather Data

4) Steep & Percolate

5) Investigate Illuminations

6) Discover It

7) Plan & Execute Insightfully

Sometimes the best insight is that extraordinary resources must be found to facilitate the degree of insight winning requires.

At the end of World War II, Germany was light-years ahead of the United States and Russia in rocket technology. The two new superpowers recognized this. Each also recognized the grave threat the other’s space ambitions posed.

Driven by these insights, the adversaries took fast, deliberate first steps to hire, recruit, or capture German scientists at the forefront of rocket technology. Before Russia and Western allies famously divided Berlin, there was a less-famous but equally important scramble to capture intellectual resources.

Insightful, deliberate action is no less vital to your business. The ability to anticipate, plan and execute is how you become a market leader, instead of having to “run like hell.”

A Call to Action: Win Your Own Space Race

So how will you foster innovation? How will you prevent today’s paradigms from constraining your potential to create tomorrow’s paradigms?

The path to insight is predictable, but it helps to have a navigator – or a brilliant rocket scientist – who has been down that road, with personal GPS. Appoint a coach, advisor or consultant who can assist you in Getting to Insight.

Your competitor is halfway to the moon…are you ready to get started?