Suboptimal: How the US Navy wasted millions of dollars designing a useless joystick

Suboptimal: How the US Navy wasted millions of dollars designing a useless joystick

Nuclear submarines are complex beasts.

They are also eye wateringly expensive to build.

Take the US Navy’s new Virginia class submarines for example.

One vessel costs a shade over $2.5 billion a pop. That’s more than 3x the GDP of Samoa.

Every year, the US Government hands out many juicy bids to various defence contractors to build these impressive machines.

The vast sums involved and technical sophistication often require clever but complex solutions.

Even the most simple of components can require many hours of prototyping and millions of dollars worth of development.

Don’t assume that complex problems always require complex solutions

The assumption is often made that each new problem that arises during the development phase requires it’s own unique solution.

This is, often embarrassingly, later proven not to be the case.

In September, the US Navy announced that it was scrapping the $50k joystick Lockheed Martin had developed for its shiny new submarines.

It’s replacement?

An Xbox video game controller.

Not only do they perform the same task just as well, a spare can be picked up for less than $50 anywhere in the world and they require no special training.

Avoid this common problem solving mistake

It’s a common mistake made early on in the problem solving process to ignore the possibility that there might already be existing solutions to your problem out there.  

To ensure you avoid this pitfall challenge yourself to look at the way other categories have solved similar challenges.

You might just save yourself a heap of money and embarrassment.

To become a better problem solver visiting our website and sign up to our upcoming course 'Think Like Sherlock: How to solve problems like a veteran detective.'

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