The International Space Station is a multi-national, trans-continental project known to be one of the most successful collaborations. What can we learn from this “blueprint for global cooperation?”
Think getting along with your colleagues from 9-5 is a challenge? Try spending 24/7 in a daylight-free, compartmentalized microgravity laboratory equivalent to a six-bedroom house with an international crew of six people, traveling at a speed of five miles per second for half a year.
The International Space Station, though a product of the less-than-collaborative Space Race of the mid-1950’s to the early 1970’s, has transformed in many ways from a notorious example of ultimate competition to a brilliantly inspiring example of ultimate collaboration. Known as “the most politically complex space exploration program ever undertaken,” the ISS has been referred to as “the blueprint for global cooperation—one that enables a multinational partnership and advances shared goals in space exploration,” by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, which is partnered with Russia’s Roscosmos, Canada’s CSA, Japan’s JAXA, and the Europe’s ESA, including participation from eleven different European countries. Currently home to six astronauts from the United States, Russia, and Italy, it would seem that a collective outward mindset is essential to the success of the crew and their research.
Back on terra firma, many of us struggle to yield real-time results that require in-depth coordination and collaboration. Which begs the question, is there something about outer space that enables an otherworldly type of synergy? Wrote NASA astronaut and former ISS resident Ronald J. Garan Jr. in his book The Orbital Perspective, “The ISS would not be the incredibly capable orbiting research facility it is today without either Russians or Americans, just as it couldn’t have been built without the Canadian arm used in its construction.” Garan goes on to say, “After mutual respect and understanding are achieved, it is possible to establish real, sincere relationships, which is the foundation of a solid long-term collaboration . . . Open collaboration encourages greater accountability, which in turn fosters trust.”
Results like these aren’t otherworldly at all, but tangible and realistic victories that can happen in our homes, communities, workplaces, and world through the adoption of an outward mindset. Collaborating with an outward mindset means that we’re open to and curious about the needs, desires, goals, and objectives of those around us. It’s a sort of curiosity that surpasses mere awareness but extends to caring enough about others’ objectives that we seek out ways to help them achieve those objectives when possible. We view others as people rather than obstacles, vehicles or irrelevancies. In the words of Garan, “If we adopt the same collaborative mindset and practices that got to the moon and back, and that built the International Space Station, we can . . . do much more.”
Watch this video to learn why shifting to an outward mindset is the first step to launching your organization into lower costs and turnover, seamless communication, clear decision-making, and greater profitability. With an outward mindset, the sky’s the limit.