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The Rosetta Probe and the New Era of Spacefarer Leadership

I guess you’ve been seeing all the news about the Rosetta probe that has now just rendezvoused with the comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. To do that it had to travel 4 billion miles over a period of 10 years, and make several gravity-assisted flybys of several planets in an incredibly convoluted series of space maneuvers.

What’s the odds that you could even locate this infinitesimal let alone meet it in the infinity of space? It’s truly amazing that a few bits of jelly situated in several people’s heads at NASA plus a few other organizations can achieve such a feat.

I seem to be seeing a lot of news about space stuff lately. Volcanoes on Io, the Curiosity Rover on Mars, just being missed by a coronal mass ejection from the Sun that, had it been just a little nearer, would have wiped out all life on Earth.

Now there’s a new film coming out soon: “Interstellar”. Although it’s not been shown yet, the promoters are already billing it the new “2001: A Space Odyssey”. Hmm, I think that’s a bold claim. But the significance is that it’s representing a new zeitgeist. The gloom of the GFC is dispelling and now we are starting to think big again.

How big? Well NASA has now put out releases on two types of drive that could be used for interstellar travel. They happily concede that neither is anywhere near production and one of them is at best a thought experiment while the other is at best a twinkle in someone’s eye.

But what it shows that the era of the BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal, courtesy of author Jim Collins in “Built to last”) is back. But in thinking about interstellar space we have gone far beyond “Wall-E”, which merely moved all of humanity to an F350-proportioned big brother of the ISS in Earth orbit, to rescue them from the mess we’ve made here.

Now we are thinking of some of these fascinating exoplanets in other solar systems and even in other galaxies. That’s really a UMAG (Ultra-Massive Audacious Goal, courtesy of yours truly). You’ve come a long way Baby, one might say. I guess NASA has got to go for broke to get anyone’s interest these days in a totally dysfunctional Congress and political environment. Sure is a lot more uplifting than the messages we get from our politicians.

For me it looks like we are entering into a new era of leadership thinking. These are the culmination of a century of thinking about where we are going and how we get there.

Personality theories are all about getting on with each other, in situ, here on Earth. That’s why you need high EQ and plenty of empathy. Competency theories were all about efficiency in manufacturing, getting a job done, and having technically competent leadership.

Behavioral finance theories (such as the one from my own company, Perth Leadership) are about how to achieve optimum financial results by leveraging behaviors, but it’s kind of Earth-based too, I have to admit.

Spacefarer leadership approaches cast off the shackles of Earth’s gravity and anthropocentric thinking and take us, literally, to the stars. And beyond if need be. Because that’s what the many-universe theories are now postulating. It’s not important to common folks whether they exist or not. What is significant once again is their assumption is that there’s a lot that’s way out there and it’s mankind’s prerogative to find it, whatever it might be.

What might some of the purposes of the UMAGS be? Here are a few:

  • Survival - finding a permanent home for humanity as its clear we have wrecked Earth beyond any possible chance of resurrection
  • Space tourism and plain curiosity - checking out what’s going on in other galaxies
  • Social - meeting with some of our fellow intelligent beings who are indubitably out there, some of whom without doubt already have us under close observation
  • Psychotherapy - finding out if a trip into outer space will somehow help find an answer concerning how to fix the dysfunctional human race; a noble if not quixotic quest I fear.
  • Scientific – e.g. can we harness the energy from black holes to keep us swimming in energy forever and do other amazing things with it, like re-architecting a few galaxies here and there?

What are the hallmarks of spacefarer approaches to leadership?

  • UMAGS – you have to hand it to NASA here, they are doing it, even if it’s only for survival; but they are being probably going to be obliterated by explorers such as Elon Musk and private companies
  • Private sector-centered exploration – government is too ponderous to do anything exciting here
  • Thinking way, way, outside the box, yet in a practical way – nanobot-based space vehicles for example
  • Nonhuman agents such as robots are key, maybe the only, actors – Google’s self-driving cars are the model, Google Glass is another paradigm
  • Aggressive independence – if you’re not on Earth and in a spaceship somewhere in the universe just with your crew, you are definitely on your own: better be really go at it
  • Initiative/resilience – same as above
  • Determination – if you’re on the way to a star in another galaxy and you’re going to being your crew capsule for several hundred years, when you come of the coma you better have some real get-up-and-go; missing the kids not allowed.
  • Courage – way more than the average suit.

This all sounds, you know, rather way out there. So is there anything practical a leader should do so that he can start to prepare to be a spacefaring leader. Here goes:

  1. Develop and promote technologies that are going to use in the spacefaring era; nanotech; novel propulsion; new ways to manage the body over long periods of inactivity and weightlessness; protection from cosmic rays. You get the idea. You just have to figure out how you can make money out of these now. It’s not impossible; exactly what explorers like Elon Musk and Richard Branson are doing now.
  2. Develop ways to identify and measure psychometrically people who have high SQs – spacefaring leadership quotients. An MBTI for space cadets if you like. And then ways to develop these almost out-of-this-world leadership capabilities.
  3. Develop new space ventures that help get us make progress along the way, e.g. mining space asteroids )several companies in on this one), naming rights to prominent locations on other planets (same here too); identifying brain mechanisms that would allow us to upload some brain functions into computers, i.e. in silicon; fail-safe computers, communications that beat the speed-of-light-barrier (difficult I concede, but I refuse to believe it’s not possible given that quantum teleportation is well-known to be truly instantaneous at any distance).

Is it possible that in finding people who have a really high SQ that we will also find the leaders who can best help us solve the problems down here on Earth?

What’s your SQ?






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