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APPEL Supports KSC Efforts to Foster Innovation

An engineer at KSC works on NASA’s Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment (SAGE) III instrument inside a super-clean “tent” designed to prevent damage to SAGE’s optics. The tent, which provides an environment that’s about 150 times cleaner than the air in an average living room, is an example of an innovative solution employed at NASA.

Photo Credit: NASA/Charles Babir

At Kennedy Space Center’s (KSC) Innovation Expo 2016 (IE), APPEL sponsored a keynote speech and workshop to promote creative problem solving in the workplace.

On November 1, 2016, NASA celebrated Agency Innovation Mission (AIM) day: an agency-wide event that highlighted the crucial role of creative, out-of-the-box thinking in conceiving, developing, and realizing the agency’s missions. AIM kicked off KSC’s three-day IE 2016 event.

NASA Deputy Administrator Dava Newman spoke at KSC about the importance of harnessing inspiration across all roles at NASA. She noted that innovation can take many forms and introduced a framework that emphasized four areas of focus: Continuous, Disruptive, Revolutionary, and Transformative.

Continuous innovation encourages incremental rather than radical change. “That’s just doing everything better each day,” Newman said. “Eighty percent of innovation comes with continuous innovation using existing technologies and existing organizational structures.”

In the framework, disruptive innovation emphasizes new organizational behaviors, revolutionary innovation focuses on developing new technologies to support novel NASA missions, and transformative innovation unifies the new technologies and new organizational behaviors to enable the agency to solve challenges that previously appeared insurmountable.

“[We are] constantly searching for improvements both in our organization and in our technology,” Newman said. “If you remember anything from today: two things. Innovation is in our DNA at NASA. It’s who we are. It’s what we do. Second, we have to be open to continuous transformation.”

At KSC, AIM was part of IE 2016, which featured three days of presentations, exhibits, workshops, and competitions to promote innovative ways of thinking and doing business. NASA organizations, industry, and academia took part in encouraging ingenuity and highlighting the ground-breaking activities already going on at KSC.

APPEL supported IE by sponsoring a presentation and workshop on creativity and innovation in the workplace. Led by APPEL instructor Dr. Pierre Larochelle, the presentation looked at the role that organizational culture plays in fostering original thinking and novel interactions in order to drive innovation. After the presentation, Dr. Larochelle facilitated a training session on Creativity & Innovation that featured hands-on exercises promoting inventiveness as well as effective brainstorming.

“We were excited to support Innovation Expo,” said APPEL Director Roger Forsgren. “The work people do at KSC inspires and fuels many of NASA’s key missions. We wanted to complement that by sharing some of the proven tools and techniques to inspire creativity that we offer in APPEL courses. Our curriculum includes a range of courses designed to help participants look at issues from unexpected angles and use practical tools to power creative problem solving.”

“For the expo, we immediately thought of Dr. Larochelle,” said APPEL Deputy Director Steve Angelillo. “He leads our popular course on Creativity & Innovation, so we knew he would be able to offer attendees a new perspective on inspiring innovation as well as tools to help them be more creative back at work.”

Together, AIM and IE 2016 strive to help the agency move forward in breaking through barriers to deliver continuous, disruptive, revolutionary, and transformative solutions to challenges. As Deputy Administrator Newman stated, the push for innovation is an investment in the agency’s future.

“We are intending to send humans to Mars in the 2030s, so we need these breakthroughs,” she said. “We need these scientific, technological, and organizational breakthroughs.”

Learn more about APPEL’s Creativity & Innovation course.

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