by Ashley Laurel Wilson

Innovation Is Required to Succeed

Jun 09, 20083 mins
IT Leadership

Quality, teamwork, leadership, and accepting risks are some of the key factors that support innovation, suggests Neil Armstrong.

Innovation drives progress and can be out of this world life changing, or so Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, has found.


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“In research and exploration, the unexpected is always expected,” Armstrong told attendees of the IDC IT Forum and Expo last week.

In 1938, the first World’s Fair was held and though 62 nations were represented, and nobody at the time predicted atomic energy or jet engines. Within one decade, both would become a reality. The 20th century marked the era of the first airplane, television, creation of genetic engineering, and the explosion of IT. Why all the scientific advancement? According to Armstrong, simple human curiosity.

Interest in space exploration took off as well during this time. Once the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1 in 1957, the Space Race was on against the United States. That same year, the Soviet Union sent the first animal, a dog, into space, soon to be followed by chimpanzees sent by the United Space. The Soviet Union was also the first country to send a human into space, beating the United States by just 23 days. During this era, each country took huge risks to achieve the most unique technological advancements in space. In the end, it was believed that the Space Race would come to a close once the first person walked on the Moon. Neil Armstrong was brave enough to be that person. (Also read NASA Phoenix Mission to Mars: An Out-Of-This-World Content Management Challenge.)

So what kept each side going? Perseverance. Competition played a huge role as well.

“Competition is the essence of progress,” Armstrong stated, adding that the 21st century is an opportune time to be involved in the IT field.

With competition comes risks, and it is only once a person accepts new risks that they have the possibility to become better. The notion of becoming “better than” is felt daily. Becoming a better person, being better than last year, and staying ahead of the competition are instilled in humans. Corporate organizations need to realize that what worked twenty years ago, or even five, may not work today. Sometimes a little risk, a little innovation is a good thing. (Read more on innovation.)

According to Armstrong, the two most fundamental pillars of any organization are the quality of its people and the leadership. Although intellect is definitely a factor, it is important that people are trustworthy. Without trust, there is no quality. The leadership, though obviously needing to posses the same features as the rest of the organization, needs to be especially open to adaptation.

After all, “you can’t with a race without taking a few chances,” Armstrong pointed out.

And to take chances requires teamwork. Although the future is unknown, the only way to move forward is to work together, one small step at a time.