2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the first manned landing on the Moon and will undoubtedly trigger a flood of new books on the subject. As well as advancing industrial technologies and management systems, the Apollo programme was a source of inspiration to aspiring scientists and engineers, the environment movement (via the Earthrise photo) and even advertisers. If you wanted to suggest ‘high-tech’, ‘utmost reliability’ or simply ‘something astronauts might consider a lifestyle choice’, your advert made reference to Apollo or the Moon.
Not that Apollo had anything to do with it, but the Moon is also embedded in our culture via stories and by sayings such as ‘over the moon’ and ‘shoot for the moon’. This is the trajectory followed by ‘Shoot for the Moon: Achieve the Impossible with the Apollo Mindset’ by Richard Wiseman (Quercus, £14.99, ISBN 9781787474444), which uses the Moon missions as inspiration for lifestyle choices. The connection isn’t immediately obvious, so bear with me. Wiseman – a psychology professor – identifies “eight key principles that make up the Apollo mindset” and helps readers to “incorporate the lessons” into their personal and professional lives. Whether you want to change careers, start a business or “find your perfect partner”, he says, “these techniques will help you to reach your own Moon”. The first of the eight chapters – ‘We choose to go to the Moon’ – uses the famous Kennedy quote to encourage readers to “follow your passion”, “think big and be first” and “make life more meaningful by contributing to the greater good”. The last chapter – ‘Buzz Aldrin and the missing switch’ – channels Aldrin’s use of a felt-tip marker top to replace a circuit breaker switch and ‘arm the engine’ for the all-important return journey. As you might expect, this is all about improvisation and coping with the unexpected. It would be easy to dismiss this as just another self-help book, but there are too many good bits in it! For example, chapter five - ‘It won’t fail because of me’ - should be read by all engineers, whether dyed in the wool or wet behind the ears, because it’s about responsibility, accountability and all the other ‘-bilities’ than get things done properly. Advice includes “prevent procrastination”, “create smart deadlines” and “don’t overcommit” - all good management fodder, but given a boost by the real-world examples that inspired the author to follow that lunar trajectory. An example features legendary Apollo flight director Christopher Kraft, who engendered commitment through delegation and trust. According to flight-controller Jerry Bostick, Kraft would say, “Here’s what I want you to do and I want you to have it done in three weeks; if you need any help, give me a call, but otherwise I’ll see you in three weeks”. Bostick concludes: “You would walk out of his office thinking I can’t let that man down”. While it’s true that few engineers have the responsibility of sending astronauts to the Moon, many would appreciate – possibly even dream of – that type of professional relationship. A final thought for prospective readers, if you’ll forgive the cliché: you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to shoot for the Moon! management engineering and technology in society history of technology reviews books volume 14 issue 2 space management Related stories Data watchdog floats ban on social media ‘nudges’ for kids Associate Patent Examiner Our office is based in Newport, South Wales Starting salary £29,061 - £33,101 depending on technical background Mechanical and Electrical Engineer – Cambridge and Antarctica Cambridge with regular duty in Antarctica. Starting from £30,357 per annum. E-bike sector gears up to revolutionise last-mile deliveries Comment View from India: Auto industry gains new momentum over EVs and emissions Bletchley Park switches on rebuilt codebreaking machine Nasa twin study finds that space has only minor impacts on astronaut health AI agent talks through its decisions in simple English Israeli spacecraft crashes during Moon descent Space X launches and lands first commercial flight ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter confusingly finds no methane in Mars atmosphere Intervene early to reverse gender imbalance in tech, experts say Recent articles Human brain could connect to internet ‘within decades’, theory suggests Data watchdog floats ban on social media ‘nudges’ for kids AI bots beat world champion e-Sports team Apple could spend $500m+ on Arcade gaming platform E-bike sector gears up to revolutionise last-mile deliveries Gatwick Airport drone chaos ‘may have been inside job’ Heavy-metal contaminants in drinking water detected in minutes by portable device Comment View from India: Auto industry gains new momentum over EVs and emissions Bletchley Park switches on rebuilt codebreaking machine Nasa twin study finds that space has only minor impacts on astronaut health