A Memorable Experience
David Wolf, Astronaut, Medical Doctor, Engineer, Scientist, Inventor, Aerobatic Pilot
Dr. Wolf delivers a powerfully captivating multimedia presentation and engaging discussion based on his first hand experiences with the challenges of spaceflight as they are applicable to individual and team excellence in our lives and work on Earth. Utilizing rarely seen spaceflight footage, his experience with large programs through smaller projects, scientific successes and failures, and being faced with life threatening and technically complex situations, he delivers a compelling message of excellence, the forces diverting us from that, along with the raw excitement of spaceflight; and generally with no shortage of humor.
His engagements are specifically tailored to venues from the scientific and corporate elite through young people just charting their course forward. David Wolf enjoys interactively engaging a group having been first inspired by his fast paced and informative presentation. Illustrations from his extraordinary experiences in Earth and Space based laboratories, building the International Space Station, recovery from setbacks, and the programmatics of design, test, and development drive home themes including:
- Every team member is critical – there are no small jobs
- Leadership and Followership are both learned qualities that apply at every level
- Effective motivated teams adapt the roles of individuals as situations evolve
- Excellence derives from both successes and failures in a healthy culture
- Sustaining excellence is an active process of organizational culture
- Innovation occurs at inconvenient times, from unexpected sources, and are often not the originally intended goal – they are often better
- Empowering the individual and the team is tricky business, but essential
- Successful teams have the judgement to recognize innovation and advance these from the creative environment to mature critical operations
- Nothing fails like success – we must avoid the black hole of complacency
- These themes are relevant from the corporate boardroom to our youngest leaders of our future
- One is never too young, or too experienced, to employ leadership/followership principles – it meshes the power of the individual with the team
This all works in our personal as well as professional lives
We live in the time when humans have left our home planet, compelled by our inherent need to explore, push the limits, raw competition, and answer the most ancient questions of millennia generations. How far can we go? Are we bound to our natural Spaceship Earth? Are we alone? Can zero gravity enable new science? How did it all begin and evolve? We can address these, but in progressing towards these answers an unexpected outcome is a fundamental enhancement in our quality of life on Earth and demand for organizational excellence. The challenges of spaceflight are so extreme, the consequences of error so rapidly unfolding, dramatic, and costly that it unsympathetically exposes the strengths and the weaknesses of even our finest organizations in government (NASA), industry, and academia. Exploring these rivals spaceflight itself.
Astronaut, scientist, and inventor, Dr. Wolf, drawing upon his extensive experience in spaceflight, medical research, leader (and follower) of innovative teams, and even his own mistakes, takes you on a vivid journey so relevant it will feel eerily analogous to the challenges you face. This personal experience combined with a dose from those on whose shoulders we stand is sure to inspire and provoke cultural excellence. As in spaceflight, successful teams enable each member to emerge as leader, and active follower, as the situation dictates. Dr. Wolf’s presentation is visually and emotionally captivating as real events unfold in spaceflight and the leadership roles transition to exploit each team member’s strengths in order to achieve new “firsts” and survive the unpredicted. His final words, “the only thing we know is not going to happen is “Plan A,” to his spacewalk partners before egressing the spacecraft, capture our need to innovate, test extensively, plan well, and then adapt effectively as a team during execution.
Dr. David Wolf leads his audience on an amazing journey, capturing the pure excitement and joy of spaceflight, as well as the determination, hard work, risk, and benefits involved. The inevitable discussion this generates illuminates the value of understanding the root causes of both success and failure – across the corporate culture. Merging of people, critical environments, and innovative technology under tight schedule, budget, quality, and even political pressure drives home lessons necessary to achieve successful “lean excellence.” Great organizations have learned that to unharness imagination, foster innovation, sustain operational excellence, and avoid unintended (negative) consequences – every team member is critical, there is no small job, and the organizational chart has the responsibility to release this power.