When Neil Armstrong was a kid he dreamed of flying planes because that’s what he knew.
In a week when HR Technology, innovation and change will be actively discusssed at the HR Tech conference in Las Vegas, it has made me think about how recruiters and employers will deliver a vision that is not just based on what we know now, but what we want for the future.
The late Paul Arden, former Saatchi and Saatchi Creative Director behind some of the world’s most famous advertising campaigns once said:
“Being right is based upon knowledge and experience and is often provable. Knowledge comes from the past, so it’s safe. It is also out of date. It’s the opposite of originality. Experience is built from solutions to old situations and problems. The old situations are probably different from the present ones, so that old solutions will have to be bent to fit new problems (and possibly fit badly).”
I like change. I like to look at how something has been done before and then focus on how a better result could be achieved by doing something different. I admire and enjoy working with people and organisations who embrace this spirit through innovation and taking the necessary risks knowing that great things are achieved by being prepared to fail in order to succeed.
Implementing new technologies and new ideas is not always easy. Budgets may not exist because it wasn't something that was there the previous year. Legacy systems result in archaic processes that bind organizations to the past and not the future. But there is usually a way. Sometimes it requires stepping back and taking a look from a different angle.
"We came all this way to explore the moon, and the most important thing is that we discovered the Earth".
It is a quote I like because we frequently focus on what is in front of us when sometimes it is necessary to take a different perspective to help us discover something new.
When thinking about taking that leap of faith - striving to do something new, challenging and possibly not been done before, I often reflect on the achievements of NASA in the 1960s.
The Apollo missions and the first moon landings are often referred to as mankind’s greatest achievement. It was a moving and courageous feat that was not without failure or tragedy. It was reflective of the Kennedy inspired psyche of America at that time - sending a man to the moon to return safely to earth, "not because it is easy, but because it is hard."
It was an American triumph that resonated around the world and relied on a collaboration of purpose, willingness to experiment, expertise, drive and determination of 400,000 people that went beyond anything that had been done before.
Tom Kelly, leader of the Grumman team who designed and built the Lunar Module, was quoted in an interview in 1999 as saying, “Nobody at Grumman who worked on the lunar module will ever forget it. We all knew that we were part of a majestic endeavour, and that we were making history happen.”
‘Majestic endeavour’ is a wonderful phrase. It's a keeper. One to remind ourselves of what it is we're aiming and striving for in our work, the people we work with and the impact we have on others. It's what drove every person who was defined by the ultimate goal of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth. It required looking forward, not back. Embracing new ideas, new ways of looking at things and focusing on a shared sense of purpose and vision.
Perhaps, though, one of the core lessons we can take from the Apollo missions is that what we see today is not necessarily what we will see tomorrow. Think about where we want to get to, not just about what's in front of us now or where we've been before. Challenging new ways of doing things and discovering insights that can change the way we work now and in the future.
In doing so, we open our eyes and minds to problems we haven't yet thought of and solutions we don't yet know we need.