The Lead: NASA Reinvents the Wheel, QVC Surviving Amazon, Smart Fork for Smarter Eating

The Lead, AchieveForum’s weekly brief of leadership news and insights, provides quick clarity into relevant headlines and straight-forward analysis for applying effective leadership tools and techniques.

NASA Reinvents the Wheel

NASA literally reinvented the wheel for future Mars missions, but the technology they developed could also transform earth tires. The NASA Glenn Research Center created a new tire made of shape memory alloy based on nickel-titanium, and this “Superelastic tire” will return to its original shape no matter how many rocks it rolls over.

Our View: Businesses can learn a lot from the way scientists collaborate to invent (or reinvent) something new. Like teams at NASA, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN is an example of scientific complex collaboration. (The LHC has thousands of scientists and engineers affiliated with 178 research institutions across 38 countries working on unlocking the fundamental secrets of matter.) Exceptional innovations often stem from complex collaborations that span across functions, companies, geographies, and technologies, and present complex leadership challenges, including letting go of position power and decision-making authority in the service of diversity of thought, experimentation, and learning required for true innovation. Further Reading

QVC Plans to Survive Amazon

The home-shopping channel QVC (which stands for Quality, Value, and Convenience) features 770 products each week on the air in the U.S., and the average shopper spends more than $1,200 a year on its products. About half of QVC sales already occur online, and two-thirds of those sales are from mobile devices. The online giant Amazon is a growing competitor in everything from food delivery to travel and online payments, and they have created an online show, “Style Code Live” to directly compete with QVC. QVC believes they will remain competitive with Amazon because of their arguably unique ability to make shopping joyful and inspirational.

Our View: Companies need to pay close attention to those entering their space in order to reestablish or reimagine their brand value to remain competitive. The best leaders use competition to strengthen their company’s brand and market position. They evaluate their competition regularly and define how they create value. Further Reading

Smart Fork Designed for Smarter Eating

A $60 fork is available on Amazon, and it’s embedded with smart technology that connects via Bluetooth to your smart phone in order to track your food intake. Designed to help the users of the fork have better eating habits, the fork vibrates and lights up if the user eats too quickly. Eating too quickly can lead to eating more food, so this fork could be considered a weight-loss tool, but just like any smart technology that requires a password, it creates another window for hackers to steal data.

Our View: Smart technology and technology in general has the power to influence individuals’ and organizations’ behavior. “Some technological change is primarily amplifying, making it possible for people to do what they have done before, but more accurately, quickly or cheaply. In other cases, technology is truly transformative: It leads to qualitative change in how people think about the world, in their social roles and institutions, in the ways they work, and in the political and economic challenges they face,” explained Adam N. Joinson and Lukasz Piwek of the Behavioral Research Lab at the University of the West of England. Leaders must grapple with how technology changes the behavior of their employees, customers, and other stakeholders. In order to initiate desired behavioral change from technology, the first step leaders must take is to identify possible behavior changes and their correlations to the respective technology. Further Reading

Nintendo Continues to Reinvent Themselves

Nintendo was founded to make handmade hanafuda cards, a type of Japanese playing cards, and they have continuously reinvented themselves to become a consumer electronics company and one of the world’s largest video game companies. Nintendo has always reinvented from a verb-based standpoint. Pacman’s verb is “eat,” Pokemon’s verb is “trade,” Mario’s verb is “jump,” and Breath Of The Wild’s verb is “to explore.” Nintendo’s new initiative, LABO, is a series of cardboard peripherals that the end user builds that simulate new ways of playing. LABO is based on multiple verbs: “make,” “imagine,” “move,” and “customize.”

Our View: While resisting change is human nature and can include everything from denial to frustration, change is inevitable both inside and outside your organization. Adapting to and benefiting from change begins with the willingness to accept change and respond quickly. Record what has worked in the past, but plan for the unexpected by outlining clear goals and expectations while experimenting with different ways to achieve them. Further Reading

SpaceX Launched its First Falcon Heavy Booster

SpaceX’s CEO Elon Musk has several plans for this year after successfully launching the most powerful rocket, its first Falcon Heavy Booster, on February, 6th 2018. “Falcon Heavy opens up a new class of payload,” Musk said after Tuesday’s launch. “It can launch twice as much payload as any other rocket in the world … It can launch things right to Pluto and beyond, no stop needed.”

Our View: Large scale projects are increasingly requiring large, virtual, diverse, and highly educated teams, but these same four characteristics also make it hard for teams to get anything done. This paradox can be tempered best by making long-term investments in building relationships and developing a culture where leaders not only embrace but also demonstrate true collaboration. Further Reading

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