Practicing Innovation

Innovation is the creation of better or more effective products, processes, services, technologies, or ideas that are readily available to markets, governments, and society. Innovation differs from invention in that innovation refers to the use of a better and, as a result, novel idea or method, whereas invention refers more directly to the creation of the idea or method itself. Innovation differs from improvement in that innovation refers to the notion of doing something different (Lat. innovare: “to change”) rather than doing the same thing better. (Definition from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

As an inventor, an engineer, an entrepreneur, a speaker/motivator, and even a hobbyist, I’ve always believed in thinking “outside the box” to come up with creative solutions.  Often that involves taking risks. When we continue to do things the way they have always been done, we get left behind. It takes doing things differently to move ahead. I’ve seen this happen over and over.

Pickens Innovations is based on this philosophy. I recently left Dynetics as Chief Propulsion Engineer and Commercial Space Advisor to offer consulting services to space and technology companies in various areas, as well as technical product development and marketing.

My unconventional thinking started in my garage with projects I dreamed up and built. It led me to Mojave, Calif., where I served as the Lead Propulsion Designer on SpaceShipOne. It eventually inspired me to start a business. Other Space companies wanted to launch rockets and most failed; I wanted to sell shovels to coal miners. And I did. And it worked.

I sold Orion Propulsion to Dynetics in December 2009 after growing it to a $6.4 million, 40-person company, thanks to my dedicated team’s focus, hard work, and willingness to innovate. Running a small start-up Space company gave me valuable insight into developing and marketing products and working with government and commercial customers and meeting their schedules, quality demands, and cost needs.

Although the bulk of my experience has been in the Space industry, I am branching out into other technical areas. I have been developing devices to support various needs in the medical field. I have formed companies with some colleagues to develop multiple medical devices that could be very instrumental in saving lives. I have several ideas in the medical arena that I am excited about pursuing.

I love to solve complex problems with simple and affordable solutions. I see many needs in the science, medical, and aerospace arenas. I am always hand sketching concepts and designs that are attempting to solve problems that really bother me. Lately, I have been thinking about altitude compensating nozzles and all the great benefits they could offer a first stage launch system if they could be made simple and affordable. I think I am getting close to building some hardware to prove to myself that my approach is not far-fetched.

I will be speaking at lunch on Monday, August 13, at the Technology Symposium of the Space & Missile Defense Conference at the Von Braun Center in Huntsville. I’ll be talking about disruptive technologies and innovation. I hope to see you there. This is the first year the conference has dedicated an entire day to technology.

My website and LinkedIn profile reflect my new direction and the services I am offering. See my YouTube-based video resume.

Please use the Contact Form on my website to get in touch with me.