Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The implications of #shirtstorm for space exploration

It is imperative to create robust incentive structures in order to secure continual innovation. Innovation is a gradual process, and it requires a constant effort from start to finish. Thus, it is important to keep people motivated for the long haul - to sustain the required levels of efforts for as long as it takes.

Even when it takes longer than planned.

This means that it is sometimes both appropriate and necessary to relax some of the traditional strictures of project management and workplace culture. Nothing kills creativity and innovation as effectively as rules and regulations, and many a project has failed due to participants becoming dispirited by what they perceive as arbitrary rules enforced for no reason. Keeping these key people motivated is of vital importance, and in the grander scheme of things the bottom line is the bottom line.

Getting things done is what matters.

Seen in this light, the shirt in the aforementioned #shirtstorm is easy to understand. Landing a robot on a comet is a hard thing, requiring massive attention to minute details and immense efforts to ensure that every decimal point is where is should be. Calculations have to be made, and then remade, and then remade, and then double checked, and then correlated, and then adjusted for new information. It's hard work, and it's repetitious hard work, and it's repetitious hard work sustained over a long period of time. Giving the workers a break is only fair - even if this break takes the form of relaxing the routines regarding workplace attire.

The comet does not care what you wear, so why should we?

To reiterate: getting things done is what matters.

There are signs, however, that this is not enough. That innovation is still unnecessarily stifled by workplace and social conventions. That we need to promote robuster incentive structures in order to secure further innovation. Thus, we have considered to propose this as a possible next step:

Let those who accomplish the next great feat of space exploration be as sexist as they want for a whole year, without comment or repercussions.

It is our belief that this will serve as a very palpable incentive to those innovators who feel constricted by the strictures of contemporary society, and that unleashing their creative potential would serve mankind in the years to come.

Innovation is hard work, and it is vital to keep it up.