The Man Who Knew the Way to the Moon


On this special anniversary of the moon landing- a look at a game-changer and the leadership lessons to be learned

“A person with a new idea is a crank until the idea succeeds.” ― Mark Twain “The Man Who Knew the Way to the Moon” – Surprising lessons in culture, leadership, personality, ego, and more from the pitch for lunar orbit rendezvous to go from earth to the moon. The story of civil engineer John Houbolt is a fascinating real life look inside the battle to reach the moon with many examples of bad management, good management, personal derailers, blinders, dysfunction, teamwork, communication, true leadership. There is power in looking at real life projects like this and seeing the similarities in our own organizations and behaviors. Just a few of the ideas you see played out in the moon LOR (Lunar Orbit Rendezvous) fight…
  • Danger when leaders listen only to their tightknit executive team -can miss the game changing idea
  • Courage from one single high level leader connecting dots and listening with an open mind to a crazy new idea
  • Big celebrity (Van Braun)- getting buy-in for project that opposed his own big rocket plans
  • Personal derailers… need for recognition, quick temper, crusty personalities, ego
  • One big unifying idea- the push to the moon
  • Confidence when you know your answer is right-being a hedgehog
  • Winning the battle and losing the war
  • Is going around the chain of command ever the right thing?
  • How holding on to grudges can taint personal victories
  • The power and lasting effects of negative words from a top leader
  • The power and lasting effects of positive words from a top leader
NASA and the hundreds of thousands of workers and suppliers and engineers and managers and leaders working together to accomplish the moon landing are a fascinating study in project management. The interesting take away from this audio book is how it clearly relates to issues we all face today and boils down to humanness and behavior and teams and leadership. History is a great teacher. Enjoy! Read also NPR Meet John Houbolt: He Figured Out How To Go To The Moon, But Few Were Listening by Scott Neuman