Undoubtedly, Felix Baumgartner’s most anticipated step of his life was one 24 miles above the Earth last Sunday. It was also the most watched step broadcasted on the Internet, with 8 million simultaneous live steams of the space jump coming to us via YouTube.
The breathtaking free-fall and landing from the edge of space was captured, by design, for our bubbly consumption by Red Bull. Indeed, it literally gave one human wings to fly through the Armstrong Line, the zone in aerospace where earthly boundaries and laws disappear.
People can question the expense and practicality of Red Bull’s Stratos investment from a branding perspective, but no one would ever deny the role of strategic planning in such a grandiose project. It was a five-year investment of work by a brain trust of doctors, pilots and engineers. It was teamwork among hundreds of people that worked uncompromisingly in allegiance to the vision of the project.
Now, let’s put their work into a perspective on execution: What if one of the hundred workers decided their role in the mission was not important? Or their tasks misguided? We might be mourning the death of an extreme skydiver and bastardizing the company that made it happen.
It seems like a stretch to talk about our “normal” organizational strategic directions in this context – but we should. No matter what strategic pursuit your organization is after, there is a common source of inspiration we can all tap into because at the end of the day, everyone in any business exists to make things better for others. Ideally these people are your customers. How distant you feel from that reality is an organizational health issue.
So in the name of fostering good health and Stratos-level inspiration, take this moment to be honest with yourself and your leaders about how your actions can better serve your organization’s strategic activities and vision.
Here are a few cues to take in this exercise:
- Anticipate what might impact your ability to accomplish your goals, internally and externally. Game-changing information needs to be identified when it exists.
- Interpret and think critically about the challenges you may be facing with strategic execution and get at the root causes of the inertia.
- Frame your decision to act knowing that the quest for perfection breeds paralysis. Start with your “better” solution and work towards best solutions by learning and aligning with others.
- Finally, don’t be flattened by failure. The test flights of the Stratos project revealed problems that needed to be fixed. Red Bull had to eat $70,000 in helium costs alone when the initial launch was canceled. Even with challenges and obstacles the plug was not pulled on the project, and people didn’t get into the politics of finger pointing.
By keeping the bigger picture in mind, the steadfast dedication of the Red Bull Stratos team will reap yet un-quantified rewards to the future of space travel. New developments of space suits will be realized; protocols for high altitude and high acceleration will evolve; and more detail about the human body’s capacity to endure supersonic speeds will be defined. In a more immediate time frame, the popularity of Red Bull concoctions might swell come Friday night for those celebrating on the supersonic coattails of Mr. Baumgartner.
What steps can you take to get closer to your goals today?