You might not think that astronauts and supply chain managers have much in common, but according to retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Rick Searfoss, their missions are similar in some respects. Speaking at this year's SCOPE West supply chain conference in Las Vegas, the former astronaut and space shuttle commander told his audience that professionals in both fields are responsible for "a mission that matters: service to others."
"What you do is provide people with what they need," Searfoss explained. "You are the lubricant that makes our society work."
In a dynamic and inspiring presentation, Searfoss—now a motivational speaker and consultant—described how astronauts' sense of purpose, excitement, and commitment contributes to a mission's success. Bringing those same qualities to a business "mission" will have an impact on its outcome, he said. He urged attendees to "overprepare" before implementing a new procedure or launching a new initiative, just as astronauts and fighter pilots do before they begin a mission. "Overpreparedness is when you know procedures so well" that execution is certain to be excellent, if not flawless, day in and day out, Searfoss said.