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The Columbia Accident Investigation Board
August 28, 2003 7:00 AM   Subscribe

"These are good people"...but changes must be made. The Columbia Accident Investigation Board final report was released on Tuesday. Putting technical answers aside for the moment, the report targets the organizational and behavioral issues that led to a breakdown in communication, safety and responsibility. While acknowledging the good will at NASA, the report holds no illusions that changing this culture will be very difficult and very necessary in order to return to flight. What types of management/behavioral obstacles have you encountered in home, work, school or social organizations? How did you try to effect change and what obstacles did you encounter in an effort to make it more effective, safe, productive or enjoyable?
posted by tgrundke (11 comments total)

 
"What types of management/behavioral obstacles have you encountered in home"

My cats won't let me change them to generic cat food.
posted by Outlawyr at 7:10 AM on August 28, 2003


Fucking stupid people who do things the hardest, least productive way possible, then bitch incessantly about how busy they are. May a Kraken drag them to the bottom of the Marianas Trench. Slowly. In triplicate.
posted by trondant at 7:27 AM on August 28, 2003


fire about 25 of these people and start again. I mean fire em hard, make it so they can't get a job in Russia or turn thier butts over to the astronauts survivors.
posted by clavdivs at 7:51 AM on August 28, 2003


My cats won't let me change them to generic cat food.

Tell them it's either that, or you replace them with generic cats.
posted by trondant at 7:56 AM on August 28, 2003


Wasn't the existence of a gap between management and engineering culture one conclusion that the inquiry into the previous shuttle disaster (Challenger) came to? I'd be interested in why the previous changes didn't work, if they were implemented at all. (Any Mefiers work at NASA?)
posted by carter at 7:58 AM on August 28, 2003


This post sounds like something from an application to an MBA program.
posted by pitchblende at 9:32 AM on August 28, 2003


How did you try to effect change...

I'd be interested in why the previous changes didn't work, if they were implemented at all.


1) I presume by "change," we're all really talinkg about "improvement."

2) Does anyone but me ever wonder if there are perhaps fundamental limits to organizations' potential? Organizations are, after all, comprised of human beings not all that different from you and me.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 10:12 AM on August 28, 2003


Talking. Damn.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 10:17 AM on August 28, 2003


I wonder if this is still true? Something tells me that it is.
posted by moonbiter at 2:43 PM on August 28, 2003


The argument that the same risk was flown before without failure is often accepted as an argument for the safety of accepting it again. Because of this, obvious weaknesses are accepted again and again, sometimes without a sufficiently serious attempt to remedy them, or to delay a flight because of their continued presence. (From the Feynman appendix linked by moonbiter)

I have to fight this attitude every day when training residents to do anesthesia. It is part of human nature and requires conscious effort to overcome. It also seems to describe exactly what happened in both shuttle crashes.
posted by TedW at 6:39 PM on August 28, 2003


Cultural change in any organization is extremely difficult. Often because the people who can benefit the most also fear that they have the most to lose and can't envision the benefit of the change. These are the ones with the most time invested in the organization.

What I've found working with religious congregations (I'm a pastor) is that you have to start with the "official" leadership. If you can't get backing from this group you might as well stop there. The next group that transitions are new people since they can be oriented to the new culture before they committ or are already in a change mode so it's no big deal to them. The last to change are the long timers who often hold positions of "unofficial" power. These are people who can easily sway undecided people with emotional arguments that can't be easily debated without seeming to be uncaring. Usually there is considerable attrition (or threats to leave) but a healthier organization always attracts healthy people. It's possible but just damn hard.
posted by ziklagz at 7:29 PM on August 28, 2003


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