From Adam Steltzner, who led the Entry, Descent, and Landing team in landing the Curiosity rover on the surface of Mars, comes a profound book about breakthrough innovation in the face of the impossible
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is home to some of history’s most jaw-dropping feats of engineering. When NASA needed to land Curiosity—a 2,000-pound, $2.5 billion rover—on the surface of Mars, 140 million miles away, they turned to JPL. Steltzner’s team couldn’t test their kooky solution, the Sky Crane. They were on an unmissable deadline, and the world would be watching when they succeeded—or failed.
At the helm of this effort was an unlikely rocket scientist and accidental leader, Adam Steltzner. After barely graduating from high school, he followed his curiosity to the local community college to find out why the stars moved. Soon he discovered an astonishing gift for math and physics. After getting his Ph.D. he ensconced himself within JPL, NASA’s decidedly unbureaucratic cousin, where success in a mission is the only metric that matters.
The Right Kind of Crazy is a first-person account of innovation that is relevant to anyone working in science, art, or technology. For instance, Steltzner describes:
·How his team learned to switch from fear-based to curiosity-based decision making
·How to escape “The Dark Room”—the creative block caused by fear, uncertainty, and the lack of a clear path forward
·How to tell when we’re too in love with our own ideas to be objective about them—and, conversely, when to fight for them
·How to foster mutual respect within teams while still bashing bad ideas
The Right Kind of Crazy is a book for anyone who wants to channel their craziness into creativity, balance discord and harmony, and find a signal in a flood of noise.
- KIRKUS REVIEWS
“Steltzner is a genetic cross between Einstein and Elvis Costello who has mastered the art of managing complex tribes of humans. The Right Kind of Crazy is a fabulous—and ongoing—story.”
—JUAN ENRIQUEZ, coauthor of Evolving Ourselves
“Crazy ideas stay crazy until they become reality. The problem is, it takes a lot of people working together to turn crazy into amazing. Adam Steltzner should know—he did it. In this book he shows us that doing what others think is impossible takes more than grit and courage. It takes the ability to inspire people . . . It takes leadership.”
—SIMON SINEK, optimist and author of Start with Why and Leaders Eat Last
“Adam Steltzner not only does great engineering, he also teaches it and he can lead a great engineering team such as the one that landed Curiosity on Mars. All that embedded in a gaudy personality and astute observer makes for a book that is as delightful as it is instructive.”
—STEWART BRAND, president, The Long Now Foundation
“How does a band of engineers get a 2,000 -pound robot to the surface of Mars? The Right Kind of Crazy is proof that with the right kind of leader, a team of determined dreamers can accomplish just about anything.”
—BEN SILBERMANN, cofounder, Pinterest
“This book shares Adam’s journey from juvenile delinquent to landing on Mars. In its pages you will enter the mind of a fearless genius rocket scientist and discover the power of intuition, and how creativity and courage are as important as math. It is a must-read for scientists and artists alike.”
—TOM SACHS, artist
“A gripping account of the Curiosity mission, and some fascinating insights into the engineering principles and analytics involved.”
– MICHIKO KAKUTANI, The New York Times