During the early days of the Space Race, the USA and the Soviets were desperate to gain the critical edge that would see them first to land a spacecraft on the moon. Prestige, acclamation, and national honour depended upon it.
The key, as it so often is, was the gathering of quality information. The technology had to be refined, and the effects of weightlessness and other non-terrestrial factors on the astronauts explored and understood. Naturally, the astronauts were in the front line of research. They were there, they were living it, so it was essential they kept accurate, experiential, and up to the minute records. This was the ultimate action research project.
However, there was a big problem. When there is no gravity the ink in pens does not flow. Whichever block could solve this challenge, it seemed, would win the Space Race. Never before in the history of the world had penmanship been so critical, so essential. The USA government put millions of dollars into funding a project with a well-known pen company which developed the pen with a heart, a minipump action that allowed a generation of schoolchildren to write rude messages on classroom ceilings, and USA astronauts to make and take critical notes in space.
The Soviets, meanwhile, solved the problem, by giving their astronauts pencils.
Lessons from this story:
- Sometimes you are to close to your problem, and you can not see the solution that is right there in front of you.
- Sometimes all you need to do is take a step back and take a look if someone else already solved a similar problem, and then use their solution.
- Creating something new is not always the best solutions.
- We can always learn from the past. If not yoru own past then someone elses.
Are there any lessons I missed? Please let me know in the comment section.
Source of the featured image: Sometimes you already have the solution for your problem, you just do not see it
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