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Apollo 13: How Communication and Teamwork can create a "Successful Failure"

1st Year Communications Essay as applied to 1 case study

Geremy Collom

on 31 October 2012

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Transcript of Apollo 13: How Communication and Teamwork can create a "Successful Failure"

& externally Three distinct stages of NASA relied on Communication and Teamwork between individuals and departments... NASA & it's Engineers Communication Teamwork and Apollo 13:
How Communication and Teamwork can create a "Successful Failure" Poor levels of Communication and Teamwork MBTI and Keirsey When a high concentration of similar learning styles was indicated. Engineers in general exhibit similar Personality Types and Learning Styles; Felder Organisational Behaviour These theories show... Reflective Learning Outstanding Communication, Teamwork and Leadership during periods of high stress and pressure Strong Leadership was integral Flight Director Gene Kranz Four areas within which failure can occur. 2 Personality Type theories &
2 Learning Style theories Organisational influences So what happened in the case of Apollo 13? The styles of Communication and Teamwork displayed were assessed and analysed MBTI Felder Kolb Keirsey After the explosion Thank you for watching and listening... Two media personnel were selected by the world's media Design & Assembly Started a chain of events that caused the explosion Satisfactory levels of Communication and Teamwork Procedure was followed as fitting a professional organisation Launch and initial stages of flight After the explosion Exceptional levels of Communication and Teamwork Set the standard for future missions In a complex web Systems Engineers Contactor Management NASA Management Contractor Technicians Mission Control Astronauts Media Public Congress History Design Engineers Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator, Keirsey's Termperament Groups, Kolb's Learning Style Inventory & Felder et al.'s Index of Learning Styles. Are there any questions? displayed during the crisis was so exemplary that the both of roles and responsibilities were applied retrospectively to The Swiss Cheese Model of Accident Causation Unsafe supervision Preconditions for unsafe acts The unsafe acts themselves "Tough & Competent" Reactive Design & Assembly Media Liaisons using "Engineering organizations are a particular specialization of business industrial organizations and clearly have distinct character, culture and style." -Briggs & Little, 2007 The concentration of these can define an organisations' culture and behaviour. Kolb was applied to NASA and it's engineers which allows parallels to be drawn between preferred Learning Styles and Personality Type Synonymous with the demands and requirements of engineering work. is similar to Kolb However its primary role when designed was a direct application to engineers. It was an amalgamation of minds and ideas: Felder, Soloman & Silverman dictated by culture and staff personality - The Kranz Dictum, 1967 Adaptable Poor levels of Communication and Teamwork were defining the course of Apollo 13's future Oxygen Tank design Designers and Manufacturer didn't communicate in regards to design flaws: with an "unusual combination of mistakes, coupled with a somewhat deficient and unforgiving design" - Apollo 13 Review Board, 1971 Change in specifications Heater assembly for tank was changed from a 28V unit to a 65V unit Poor communication was two-fold: NASA Contractor Design didn't allow for a physical inspection of internal components - Oxygen Tank #2 was damaged Occurred during preparation of Apollo 10 - the tank was dropped about 5 cm Because of the design flaw, the internal components could not be checked properly for damage - The internal filler tube had been knocked loose - During testing The detanking procedure was unable to be completed Due to the loose filler tube A new procedure was created as a "work-around" Without a detailed understanding of the tank or its history - Incomplete and inaccurate information used Detanking Procedure - - New detanking Procedure Installation of the incorrect heater assembly Design flaws in the tank assembly Components used were dangerous for the environment subjected to - Damaged internal components - - Unaware that the tank had previously been dropped - Oxygen tank warning system Became faulty during the flight Due to damaged components in the tank Was muted due to fault - - Oxygen tank pressure Rapid increase of internal pressure went undetected Due to warning system being muted - Oxygen tank explosion Caused by damaged internal components Spark initiated the explosion - CO 2 Filters cartridges were incompatible The LM used tubular filters The SM used cubic filters - - Launch and Initial Stages of Flight Satisfactory levels of Teamwork and Communication Debrief Between Mission Control and the Astronauts was critical Shift Changes Apollo 13 Flight Directors Role Flight Director now the sole figure responsible for mission success
Had power and responsibility to "take any action necessary for mission success." Relaxed & informal Facilitates recovery from the stress and pressure Flight Controllers communicated directly with the head authority Strengthens: Professional relationships Confidence in self & others Trust in other team members Teamwork and Communication Interpersonal relationships - - - - - Poor Communication and Teamwork Exceptional Communication and Teamwork Negatively affects engineering projects Can overcome the greatest of adversities and ensure success Effective communication between the teams was crucial "Only outstanding performance on the part of the crew, Mission Control, and other members of the team which supported the operations successfully returned the crew to Earth." - Apollo 13 Review Board, 1971 Personality Types and Learning Styles Played an integral part in creating a "Successful Failure" Required to pass on all relevant information - Everyone became a part of the solution. “A 100 percent correct answer, too late to be of use, was worthless." Through reflective learning from the Apollo 1 incident NASA realized the importance of communication with the public Effective Communication Solutions had to be communicated and executed with 100% accuracy Formation of sub teams - Allowed efficient flow of communication - Kranz, 1971 Organisational Attitude After the Apollo 1 incident a new sense of responsibility developed. - Allowed delegation of tasks Troubleshooter (MBTI) with S & P attributes In a complex web NASA's engineers appear to concure with this correlation The level of
Communication and Teamwork This set the benchmark for not only future missions at NASA, but also future engineering projects worldwide. Presidential Medal of Freedom was awarded to NASA filters Procedures were followed as fitting a professional organisation. - Alligned and maintained focus Personality Type and Learning Style analysis. Media: it's impact and role - Avoided speculation - One Print and one TV NASA communicated to the public and congress via the media Press Conference held within 3 hours of the crisis This kept the public informed with accurate and timely information. - - - The media was bored with Apollo flights - - Significantly reduced decision making time - - Each team worked independently of the others "The handovers... were smoother than on an Olympic relay team." - Kranz, 2000 Facilitate a seamless transition Minimal loss of information and time - - - Reinforced need for competence and accountability Minor incidents dealt with quickly and smoothly Accentuated need for greater integrity and better communication policies - - - - - Didn't broadcast a live interview with astronauts - "When things are going well, tell the media everything they want to know; when things are going badly, tell them even more." - NASA Media Unit Learned and developed his leadership skills through experience Analysed as: Artisian (Keirsey) Accomodator (Kolb) Global and Intuitive Learner (Felder) "The Kranz Dictum", 1967 - "Spaceflight will never tolerate carelessness, incapacity, and neglect. Somewhere, somehow, we screwed up. It could have been in design, build, or test. Whatever it was, we should have caught it. We were too gung ho about the schedule and we locked out all of the problems we saw each day in our work. Every element of the program was in trouble and so were we. The simulators were not working, Mission Control was behind in virtually every area, and the flight and test procedures changed daily. Nothing we did had any shelf life. Not one of us stood up and said, 'Dammit, stop!' I don't know what Thompson's committee will find as the cause, but I know what I find. We are the cause! We were not ready! We did not do our job. We were rolling the dice, hoping that things would come together by launch day, when in our hearts we knew it would take a miracle. We were pushing the schedule and betting that the Cape would slip before we did. From this day forward, Flight Control will be known by two words: 'Tough' and 'Competent.' Tough means we are forever accountable for what we do or what we fail to do. We will never again compromise our responsibilities. Every time we walk into Mission Control we will know what we stand for. Competent means we will never take anything for granted. We will never be found short in our knowledge and in our skills. Mission Control will be perfect. When you leave this meeting today you will go to your office and the first thing you will do there is to write 'Tough and Competent' on your blackboards. It will never be erased. Each day when you enter the room these words will remind you of the price paid by Grissom, White, and Chaffee. These words are the price of admission to the ranks of Mission Control." - The Kranz Dictum, 1967 Media portrayed Apollo 13 as a "triumph of teamwork, initiative and ingenuity" - Kauffman, 2001 - Credit: NASA Credit: NASA Credit: NASA Credit: NASA Credit: NASA Credit: NASA Credit: NASA Credit: NASA Credit: NASA Credit: NASA Credit: NASA Credit: NASA Credit: Derro & Williams, 2009 Credit: Dreyfus, 1991 Credit: ScienceDirect.com Credit: Salemmarafi.com Credit: Gompute.com Credit: NASA
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