The process of designing, developing and making space suits matters because it helps teach us something about the way we make decisions.
In terms of decision theory, the process appears to epitomise the “maximising” approach to decision-making strategies – i.e. identifying an “optimal solution” for each of a number of problems before making a decision. Or, so it seems
While there is undoubtedly a very significant amount of work involved in making a space suit, the process can also alternatively be seen as representing a “satisficing” approach to decision making.
The term “satisficing” was coined by social scientist Herbert Simon in 1956 – a combination of “satisfy” and “suffice”. It refers to a decision-making strategy that attempts to identify an adequate solution, rather than an optimal solution – particularly if the costs of the decision-making process itself are taking into account.
What is the difference between an inventor who achieves commercial success and one who doesn’t?
According to the authors the difference is not only to have a well-researched and thought-through invention, and a well-resourced team. The more important key to commercial success seems to be a willingness to launch a product quickly with the view to continual improvement and development thereafter – a satisficing approach, rather than a maximising one. The value of getting to market and starting to generate revenue (and perhaps feedback) cannot be underestimated."
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