Where Science Meets Muse

Stifling Innovative Minds at NASA

Posted by Plish on February 9, 2009

This video made by astronaut Andy Thomas shows a very real situation.  The fact that it happens at NASA is disheartening as people view NASA as being on the cutting edge.  Unfortunately, this situation is all too common in large corporations all across the United States.

The scripts of the NASA scenes used in this depiction are not fictional. They are based on actual events. They are real.

The behaviors shown from management shouldn’t be at any company, anywhere.    Some biggies?

  1. That’s never been done here before.
  2. What we did on other projects worked fine.
  3. Project timelines are THE priority.
  4. Following complex processes are a priority.
  5. Every project must succeed-No room for failure.

There is a great discussion on this video going on over here.

What are your thoughts?  Have you experienced anything like this?


4 Responses to “Stifling Innovative Minds at NASA”

  1. Mike Brown said

    Michael – There seem to be so many ways to stifle an innovative perspective. I just wrapped up a series on 10 of the most common ways that businesses block innovation: http://brainzooming.blogspot.com/search?q=10+NO%27s+Blocking+Business+Innovation

    Hope you find the perspectives in the link helpful.

    Take care,and keep up the great work!


  2. Plish said

    Mike, thanks for sharing the blog post! Excellent stuff in the there and definitely a keeper.

    Thanks and looking forward to reading more!

  3. Kevin Boon said

    Hello Michael,

    Thanks for this post. I’ve visited Nasa a couple of times but have dealt with these issues working within government agencies and the corporate world. Too many rules prevent innovation, too few rules can creates chaos. It would be nice to see more of a balance. The emerging trends in business and government seem to point to “innovate or die” so I hope we’ll see more changes. People get locked behind their job descriptions which was the topic of my blog post today – Meditation and our Ego.


  4. Plish said

    Great response, Kevin, and your blog post is right on.

    Balance is indeed needed. I too have witnessed the phenomena shown in this video. Regulated industries are probably the worst because they have to document their work so they become slaves to the system as opposed to the system being at their service.

    Innovation is indeed necessary and coming around the bend. The problem is that I think many companies think that innovation happens by decree, so without optimizing the innovation infrastructure, some companies may die trying to innovate.

    Thanks for your thoughts!

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