3 Things We Can Learn From the Space Entrepreneurs.

Blue Origin Space Vehicle as developed by Jeff Bezos

Three super rich entrepreneurs have ambitions and plans to take tourists into space. What can we learn about innovation from them?

Jeff Bezos who founded Amazon, Sir Richard Branson of Virgin fame and Elon Musk (Paypal and Tesla Motors) are all at it – designing, developing and testing a variety of spacecraft. As the latest news from Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin company, and recent updates from the other parties show - progress is slow.

These three entrepreneurs have already achieved major global successes with innovative businesses. If they so desired they could sit back and enjoy the fruits of their success. But no – they have all been drawn to space and the opportunity of creating a commercial space flight operation.

My suspicion is that it is the enormity of the challenge that compels them. Establishing safe, reliable (affordable to the target market) commercial space flights requires that they and their expert teams solve round after round of design, development and testing problems. They will need to develop new technologies and make the finances and the funding work. It’s innovation gone massive!

Taking on such a challenge confirms the inspirational quality of these three figures – but is it ego that drives them on?

One thing we know about the challenge of space travel is that not one of them ‘knows how to do it’. When they started, it was with just the knowledge of current technologies and the desire to make it happen. They also have the comfort of knowing that in the past, through creative thinking and problem solving they had achieved amazing things in other fields.

1.   Can you get excited about novelty and new ideas?

Successful entrepreneurs are confident in the power of creativity, imagination and vision, in a way that few other people are.

Research has also shown that highly creative people are motivated by novelty and new ideas. They get a buzz just out of thinking up new ideas and thinking about things differently. Money or financial reward of any kind do not come into it at that early stage. For such people there is bags of satisfaction just through engaging in creating something new.

These three space entrepreneurs are intrigued by new ideas and find them appealing.

2.  Select ideas that are new and intriguing – not the feasible ones.

Indeed, newness, intrigue and appeal are very good criteria for selecting an innovation project.

Sometimes when company innovation teams brainstorm they generate lots of highly creative ideas, but then when they come to select ideas to develop further, they ignore all the creative ideas they have generated and pick the ideas that they feel are ‘feasible’.

This is never going to lead to a great innovation. You can build feasibility into a new idea but you cannot build newness into a feasible idea.

Sadly, in the innovation team workshop ins some companies, the fear of failure is often high and it is hard for the team member picking the idea to find the courage to pick an unfeasible idea. Teams can build confidence by knowing that when an ‘unfeasible’ idea is picked, as long as they have a good creative innovation process, then they can develop it into a feasible concept.

3. Take courage.

What we can learn from these entrepreneurs is to take courage, and have belief. In the past, Branson, Musk and Bezos embarked on great challenges that that they did not know how to deliver and yet they ‘found a way’ to create successful global businesses.

And we can do this too…. If we have the courage to think big.

Read latest news about Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin space project.

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Photo : Courtesy of Blue Origin.