What can business leaders learn from NASA decision to stop flying Endeavor?

I heard this story on NPR the other day about how NASA is discontinuing missions to the international space station so that they can focus on missions that can take astronauts deeper and further into space.

How will US astronauts visit the space station to finish existing projects without NASA shuttle missions? They’ll rely on renting seats on Russian aircrafts, as well as commercial spacecrafts that companies are developing.

This sort of innovation in the way astronauts get to space is allowing NASA to pursue more ambitious missions and further innovate.

NASA’s decision to stop flying to the international space station is going to allow its people to focus on what’s next: building rockets that propel deeper and farther into space. Now, most organizations do not have the luxury of stopping doing what they are doing so they can focus on something new. We need to service our customers, produce revenue, etc. But we can ask ourselves: can someone else be working on what I’m working on so I can focus on what’s next? Are my people doing stuff that they should be handing off to others? Can I outsource this function because it is not core to my business? Should I be doing this at all?

Everything you and your people do distracts them from something else. Make sure that you are choosing to do or not do something.

Leaders in business can learn from NASA. Tough choices have to be made. Doing things that are easy and comfortable can stifle innovation or be distracting. Leaders must focus on ground-breaking areas to propel business forward, and not get stuck in a rut of executing the same thing over and over again. They should also be willing to outsource things that others can do just as well.

Learning to do something well is very important, but it can also become a distraction from getting to the next level and going deeper into space. Learn to balance both.