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The Right Kind of Crazy

Adam Steltzner and William Patrick, Portfolio, London, U.K., $28, 256 pages, Jan. 2016, ISBN: 978-1-59184-695


Author Adam Steltzner led the entry, descent, and landing teams responsible for the Curiosity rover’s mission to Mars. Although he is credited with this amazing engineering and science achievement, he actually barely graduated high school. He discovered his gift for math and physics while attending a local community college, and after earning his PhD, took a job with the National Aeronautics and Space Association’s (NASA’s) affiliate, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

In this book, Steltzner gives a first-person account of innovation. He describes how his team switched from fear-based to curiosity-based decision-making. He explains how to overcome the creative block caused by fear, uncertainty, and the lack of a clear path forward, which he calls the dark room. He also warns of the signs that indicate blind love for your own idea is clouding your ability to be objective, and, conversely, the signs that indicate you should fight for the ideas you love. Readers will learn how to condemn bad ideas while...

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