Monday, February 18, 2013

Spaceship 1 - Burt Rutan

Burt Rutan, designed and built SpaceShipOne to win the $10 million X-Prize for privately financed spaceflight (Rutan, 2006). The techniques he used were very similar to those used 20 years before on the IBM PC project :

· Work with a small group. Rutan designed, built, and tested SpaceShipOne and White Knight, with a maximum of 35 staff, but typically about 20.

· Select staff for their vision. Choose the team “for the fire in their eyes, not their grades."

· Be averse to risk aversion. A risk-averse organization stifles innovation. "The early days of aviation were not risk averse,"

· Leverage the free market. Avoid government "support." The aviation industry was able to take off so quickly without waiting government support.

· Invest in the future through inspiration. Pay attention to the next generation. The greatest airplane designers were children and teens when the aviation industry first took off.

· Simplicity: KISS

· Adapt. The human ability to adapt to a changing environment is critical. If we don’t support those desires and drivers we threaten the survival of the species. Rutan argued that innovation is stifled in risk averse environments.

Simon Collyer 

Rutan, B. (2006, Feb 24th 2006). Tales of Invention. Paper presented at the Technology, Entertainment, Design., Monterey, CA.