Well, it appears that the amount of junk in space has reached a critical point and a report by the National Research Council says the current amount of debris floating around could cause fatal leaks in spaceships or destroy valuable satellites. It calls for international regulations to limit the junk and more research into how the issue could be resolved.
Hopes of addressing the space junk issue have been dashed by two major setbacks in recent years. In 2007, China conducted an anti-satellite weapons test which destroyed a decommissioned weather satellite, smashing the object into 150,000 pieces larger than 1cm. Two years later, two satellites crashed in orbit, creating even more debris. As a consequence of these two events the amount of debris in our orbit was doubled.
Proposals to address the situation are somewhat whacky and generally hard to comprehend. The suggested range of solutions includes harpoons, nets and an umbrella-shaped device that would sweep up the debris. Even a ‘very big’ magnet has been touted as a possible solution. The aim would be to push the debris further towards the earth where it would burn up, or into a higher but safer orbit.
All this debris puts at risk any future space programs and of course the long term continuation of the International Space Station which does from time to time have to take evasive action to avoid debris.
Almost inevitably, while writing this blog, a quick glance at our workspace reveals a myriad of a different type of junk – paper, pens, books, business cards, coffee cups… It is no different when we work with client groups where we regularly come across busy executives who assume (or hope?) there is a desk hidden underneath the pile of reports and papers on their desk. They can’t really be sure as it has been a number of years since they last saw it.
We have written before about the sheer scale of data that is now available for managers in business today and it appears the volume continues to grow – our very own ‘space junk’ and just as the National Research Council report suggests, it appears that we may have lost control of our environment.
A recent study completed by Dr. Martin Hilbert of the University of South Carolina, based on an analysis of the amount of information broadcast by mankind every year, estimated the amount of data sent to a typical person in the course of a year to be equivalent to the combined content of 174 newspapers every single day.
As individuals it is incumbent on us to become experts at discerning what information is valuable and what is noise. As a leader you need to separate the wheat from the chaff and be brutal in your discipline about getting the right data. Take a look at the data you receive on a day to day basis and determine what you truly need to be effective. Remove the comfort blankets and those reports that “you always get”. With the amount of data available to the modern leader it is time to decide on which data is really relevant.
Re-acquaint yourself with your desk and prove to yourself that all that paper was not suspended there by magic…