What We Can Learn From NASA

Any good entrepreneur is always taking ideas from other industries and trying them in their own company.

Here’s one from NASA I just found out about.

It’s called Integrated Concurrent Engineering, or ICE.

ICE turns the traditional model of working on projects upside down.

Here’s how it works:

Usually when a company has a big project they work on it bit by bit.

A small group of leaders conceives the idea, then one by one, different people or groups are called in to work on their section of the project.

That seems logical, but it’s slow.

You have to wait for different groups to finish their bit before the next group can start on theirs.

ICE is radically different.

Everyone gets together at the start, and works on it concurrently.

When everyone is in the same room, mistakes are realised much earlier in the process.

Waiting time is enormously reduced.

Teamwork is profoundly enhanced, because groups are forced to work with each other.

Projects get completed earlier.

How much earlier?

Well a Disney executive I had lunch with this week told me that switching to the ICE method has tripled Disney’s project completion speed.

Think about that.

Just by switching to this method of working they finish jobs in a third of the time.

ICE won’t work for every company, but it might just be worth trying in yours.

Get the whole team in earlier. Include everyone from the start. Make them interact with different departments. Let each department see the others work, at every stage. Force everyone to make decisions right there in the room.

In short, massively and concurrently collaborate.

If ICE can help NASA send spacecraft to Mars, it might also make help your company reach the stars.

The 3 Missing Ingredients of Success

Success is simple.

If you are not achieving at the level you’d like, it’s almost certainly because of at least one of these 3 factors.

1. CLARITY.

Most people aren’t totally clear on what they want.

Sure they have a vague idea about a general direction, but that’s not enough.

You need to get absolutely crystal clear about your goals, and create a step by step path to making progress towards them.

You don’t have to know every step, just the next few. Once you travel a little further down the path, you’ll usually work out what to do next.

If you’re unhappy with your progress, the first solution is to sit down and re-clarify your objectives.

2. PRODUCTIVITY.

There are some people who are clear about what they want, but they just don’t do much to achieve it.

We live in a physical world, which functions by cause and effect, action and re-action. Unless you take lots of actions, significant change can’t occur. Conversely when you do act productively and proactively, it’s astounding how much progress you can make over time.

I don’t think it’s a matter of intelligence either; it’s more about choosing those actions that maximise results, and exerting enough energy to move things forward.

3. BELIEF.

If you have Clarity and Productivity, you will usually massively outperform the average person. These two alone are formidable forces.

But occasionally people who exhibit both still fail. When this happens it can often be attributed to their lack of belief in themselves.

To achieve anything worthwhile you will confront countless obstacles and hardships.

The unsuccessful person is taken by surprise by these obstacles, and begins to doubt themselves.

The high achieving person understands that temporary failure is the very fabric of success. They know that nothing of worth was ever achieved in the history of mankind without initial failure. Ever.

When you choose to really believe in yourself, it affects your results in two profound ways.

You take more powerful actions, which inevitably lead to superior results.

And the people around you respect you more. They sense that you are a dynamic, effective, confident force to be reckoned with, and are more likely to want to help and support you.

So if you’re not satisfied with your success in business or life, take a few minutes to think about which of these three ingredients you may be missing.

Then each day when you wake up, resolve to focus on that area.

Pretty soon, your new focus will become a new habit, and that new habit will create a new destiny.

The King of Time Management

I’d like to nominate Mike Duke, the CEO of Walmart, as King Of Time Management.

Contemplate this:

He runs the world’s biggest company.

He oversees 8600 stores.

He has a staff of 2.1 million people.

Yet he still handles all his emails by the end of each day!

He is so dedicated to sticking to his schedule that he is not above standing up to leave while people are still talking to him in meetings.

This guy is definitely worth studying.

As you can imagine, there’s a mountain of management techniques he uses that we all could profit from emulating.

But today, I’ll just focus on one.

His folder system.

Duke has 8 senior people reporting directly to him.

On the credenza near his desk, he has one folder for each of them.

It has their name and the time of Duke’s next meeting with them.

Before they arrive, he takes out their folder and reviews all the areas they manage.

Anything they have promised to do is listed in the folder too, so he keeps that item in there until it’s done.

It’s such a simple, effective system, but it’s cleverer than it may first appear.

Let’s look at it in detail.

He concentrates on the eight people who can create the most change in the company. (Most leaders have a far wider focus).

He prepares for each meeting before the person arrives. (Most people don’t do any preparation before internal meetings).

He is clear at all times what they are up to. (Most CEOs of big companies have only a vague idea).

He follows up rigorously. (Most senior managers have no system for follow up).

Even at Wal-Mart, where efficiency is an obsession, senior staff marvel at how much Mike Duke gets done with this system.

Maybe you should consider adopting his method too.

The reality is, the people who get to the top in business aren’t necessarily smarter than their competition.

But, like Mike Duke, they’re usually more focused and organised.