Rod Pyle – Innovation the NASA Way

cover43803-mediumI’m sure I was not the only boy dreaming of being an astronaut back in the 70’s and 80’s. Space exploration was booming. Looking back NASA has generated a lot of innovations and lessons for modern businesses as well. In Innovation the NASA Way: Harnessing the Power of Your Organization for Breakthrough Success, Rod Pyle, having access to many brass, distilled the ways to innovate using memorable moments in the agency’s history. From the early days of Werner von Braun‘s modernization of World War II German V2 rockets, attempts to keep up with the USSR, through Gemini, Voyager, Apollos flying to the moon, building Skylab en International Space Station to Mars landers and of course the Space Shuttle program.

Billions and billions of dollars spent on new technology, exploring the unknown, testing and improvising. What made the difference? Sometimes low-level decision power, the subject matter experts, sometimes tightening budgets or a clear mandate on behalf of the U.S. Government. Once you understand the huge technological challenges and forget 21st century computer power and the almost unnoticed robustness of the ISS and Voyagers, the thousands of satellites monitoring Earth from orbit, you’re impressed chapter after chapter. What did it take to develop the giant Saturn V booster rocket, a Space Shuttle or Mars Rover? Each topic is introduced by a set of challenges which are revisited at the end.

After the final chapter on modern commercial types of space exploration, manned and unmanned missions to the Moon, Mars, etc. Pyle summarizes the way innovation was made possible once again. Well-written, daring to challenge you and pinpointing the human factors in all these technical stuff, providing lessons for all of us.

About the author

Rod Pyle is a producer, writer and director of documentary programming for The History Channel and Discovery Communications, as well as an author of non-fiction books. Notable work includes Modern Marvels: Apollo 11 and In Their Own Words: The Space Race. Rod was formerly the Vice President of Communications for the World Space Foundation, a space-advocacy association based in Los Angeles and closely aligned with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA. While there he was the senior editor and contributor to their two publications, The Astronautics Journal and Foundation News. Both publications highlighted the Foundation’s significant work in solar sail technology and plans for a NASA-supported Lunar Polar Base on the moon. Rod is a frequent contributor to other publications, including Dreamwatch, a UK-based science fiction magazine.

Rod spent two years as a visual effects consultant on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and was a visual effects producer for Joe Dante’s Warlords: Battle for the Galaxy for Paramount Studios. He co-produced and was the lead researcher for Patrick Stewart’s Nine Worlds, a CD-ROM released by Paramount Interactive, and was editor and webmaster of the product’s award-wining website for three years. Rod was formerly employed at the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, CA, where he served in various capacities for over 10 years. During his tenure, he produced Launchlink, a public celebration of NASA’s Space Shuttle in conjunction with NASA and FOX-TV, as well as authoring numerous handbooks. He was also a liaison to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for numerous unmanned planetary programs including Voyager’s 1 and 2.

Current efforts include a WWII feature documentary entitled War Without Mercy, as well as the completion of a compilation of historical interviews for The Hoover Insttution at his alma mater, Stanford University. His recent books: Missions to the MoonDestination Moon, and Destination Mars. To be released in July 2014: Curiosity: An Inside Look at the Mars Rover Mission and the People Who Made It Happen. Rod lives in Pasadena, CA.