A lot of the time on spacecraft projects you spend so much effort on the small details, the non-conformance reports, the ticking of boxes in an arbitrary procedure…the endless meetings with levels and levels of customers who really don’t have a definitive answer or direction as to what to do…
And most of the time they ask you “What do you think….?”
It goes on and on like this often pushing schedules back and back and spending more time and money.
Sometimes this is good thing; extra experiments and tests get added that provide well-needed clarity..but at whose expense? Normally yours, that’s who
In fact a lot of the time it’s like you are preparing to launch a filing cabinet full of documents into space rather than an actual satellite!
Is there a better way to go about it?
Well, yes there is and it is in a place that managers, engineers or scientists would not normally look….
The answer is found in Direct Marketing…of all places…
Direct marketing, especially the type where information products are sold to people online, has by its nature to maximise the conversion rate of prospects to buyers.
So you could have 100 people all look at a web page selling something but only 15 of them buy. So you have a 15% conversion rate.
The key though isn’t in the conversion rate but what you put on the page that improves the conversion rate or maintains the conversion rate.
What information and the way you word it keeps people on the page and likely to buy?
Now if you think about a spacecraft project, and especially an ion propulsion one, a lot of the time your customers are relying on you to come up with the answers…and this is what they pay you for.
But if you don’t get control of your focus then your conversion rate, as in the ability to turn a challenge into a result with the minimum effort goes waaaaaayyyyy down…
So how do you increase your conversion rate?
Direct marketing has the answer again, though it really is an advertising idea. It’s very simple:
You address the areas of most concern and spend around 80% of your effort solving them
So even though you may have 100’s of requirements there are really only 20 or so, in fact only 5 that are the real real worry-causers…
But you may ask why isn’t this obvious to you from the start?
Well, the answer is a combination of the misdirection caused by the formalism of requirements and contracts and the other is a lack of training in the ways of the Ninja Direct Marketer…
But there is hope…spacecraft project management could do well to learn the lessons of the marketers!…
I’ll talk more about this soon.