Have you ever been at a cocktail party, had someone ask you what you do for a living, and wished you could come up with something impressive-sounding to wow them? Adam Stelztner probably never experiences that. He’s an engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory who has worked on flight missions including Galileo, Cassini, and Mars Pathfinder, and the Mars Exploration Rover project. He has a lot to say about innovation and leadership.
The ugly truth is that great work isn’t enough. No one tells you this early in your career; It’s something you learn over time. Cream doesn’t automatically rise to the top, and we don’t live in a meritocracy. If you want your idea to be heard, you have to go the extra mile to ensure that it’s framed to resonate with the right audience.
In the effort to “ship fast” we often fail to lay a sturdy foundation for our work, and the results can be disastrous. Shipping early shouldn’t be equivalent to thoughtlessness. You need to ensure that you are respecting the work by giving it your best mental effort.
Yes…we need coaches. However, don’t be “The Coach”. Instead, offer feedback that is timely, contextualized, empathetic, and helpful in the context of the outcome you’re committed to.
While meetings can go bad in an endless variety of ways, one thing is common to all bad meetings: they’re a colossal waste of time. Sadly, if a typical month includes a number of meetings, this wasted time amounts to a massive chunk of our lives! We need a solution.
To be valuable and effective you need to understand which kind of innovator you are.