The Right Kind of Crazy

The Right Kind of Crazy: A True Story of Teamwork, Leadership, and High-Stakes Innovation - Adam Steltzner, William Patrick

Mr. Steltzner has an interesting job: he led the team of engineers and scientist that designed the Entry, Decent and Landing systems for the Mars Science Laboratory (aka the Curiosity Rover).  He has written a memoir with the help of co-writer William Patrick titled The Right Kind of Crazy: A True Story of Teamwork, Leadership, and High-Stakes Innovation



The book jacket proclaims that the book will provide a first person account of innovation that will describe


  • How his team learned to switch from fear-based to curiosity based decision making
  • How to escape the “Dark Room” the creative block caused by fear, uncertainty and the lack of a clear path forward
  • How to tell when we are too in love with our own ideas to be objective about them – and conversely, when to fight for them
  • How to foster mutual respect within teams while still bashing bad ideas.


I started The Right Kind of Crazy in November as part of the Twelve Tasks of the Festive Season.  I can’t quite articulate why, but didn’t quite live up to the hype of the book jacket and couldn’t hold my interest.  The parts where Mr. Stelzner was philosophizing on management theory and saying his mia culpas were a particularly slow slog.  The Right Kind of Crazy has spent a lot of the last two months sitting on my (physical) library shelf with me looking at it and asking “am I going to DNF? Nah, I’ll get back to it later.”  The factual story regarding the development of the rover landing system (and the projects that trained Mr. Steltzner for that role) was compelling enough that I did eventually decide to power through and finish before the book ran out of renewals.


Counting towards 2016 and not counting for the 2017 Library Love Challenge since the majority of the reading happened in 2016.