What NASAs space teams can teach us in the modern world of work
Astronauts were the first remote workers.
For the last several decades, these highly-trained, highly-skilled professionals have launched thousands of miles into space with only a telephone or video screen to connect them back to planet Earth. Under some of the most intense and extreme circumstances, including managing crises, complications, and conundrums, astronauts have figured out how to consistently perform as a team at an elite level with lives on the line.
All while rarely being in the same “office space.”
Space teamwork flips our ideas about traditional teamwork on their head. While the typical sports franchise or office manager is worried about creating serendipitous run-ins at the water cooler, astronauts concern themselves with only the strategies that contribute to the bottom line and a successful mission.
This heightened focus on the mission, and not the abstract possibilities of “innovation” and “more creativity”, drives everything astronauts do to establish successful teams.
Any team can benefit from some space-like structure.
So what goes into running an elite interstellar team?
NASA lays out a few key considerations:
Technology and Distance
Let’s look at them one at a time.
The foundation of all good teamwork is putting the right people on the team.
They have a deep and intentional evaluation and selection procedures. They have high standards and are unwilling to compromise, even if the talent looks really good on paper.
But they do something else that’s special. They leave nothing up to chance when it comes to integrating the new team members.
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