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Fried Chicken

Optimize Blog - May 23, 2012 - 0 comments

You will be familiar with many of the names of the great astronauts in history – Armstrong, Aldrin, Shepard to name just a few. But there is one name that you might not be so familiar with…..Camilla. Now Camilla is not your run of the mill space cowboy – she is in fact a rubber chicken. A group of students from Bishop, California, have sent her to an altitude of 120,000ft as part of a project.
The journey, which involved attaching Camilla to a helium balloon, was undertaken to test the levels of radiation exposed to the chicken during a solar storm which the Earth experienced last month. She flew twice – once on 3 March before the radiation storm and again on 10 March while the storm was in full swing – to give the students a basis for comparison.
Camilla is already well known among space enthusiasts as a mascot of NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, and has more than 20,000 followers on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.
Camilla was launched into space again by NASA last weekend but this time wearing an outfit knitted from plastic bags. Sue Drage, 62, from Rugby in England was asked by the US space agency to knit a new protective suit for Camilla. She (Camilla that is not Mrs. Drage) was launched to capture the shadow on Earth caused by the annular eclipse, where the Moon moved in between Earth and the Sun.
Mrs Drage started knitting with plastic bags last year, but has been crafting everything from bags to jewellery with recycled materials for years. She has never had a client like Camilla before though.
So what can a space-bound plastic chicken wearing a suit made from recycled material teach us? She is used as a way to educate young people about the space program and science and we got to thinking about the complexity of space and the parallel with the complexity of our business environment. The role of the leaders is to provide clarity around complex issues and while we might not advocate the use of a plastic chicken, there are a few techniques which can be used to bring clarity to complexity within our teams.
When explaining the corporate strategy for example we might use strategy maps. When discussing vision a good technique is to use the analogy of describing a specific object on the horizon. Certainly making the communication of complex issues interesting is key to getting the message across.
Of course the one fundamental in any communication is answering the “What’s in it for me” question. Keeping the communication generic, non-specific and high level will never produce the engagement necessary for truly effective communication. The individuals within your team must know what the message being communicated specifically means for them.
We are not sure what is in it for Camilla but the much travelled space bird will no doubt continue to be used to engage young people to educate them about the wonders of space and our universe. We are not sure if the recycled plastic bag fashion will catch on but you never know.

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