Learning From Columbia

Article

Brong, Jerry   (2004, ASQ)  

Quality Progress    Vol. 37    No. 3
QICID: 19501    March 2004    pp. 38-45

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Article Abstract


In the year since the space shuttle Columbia accident that took the lives of its seven crew members a number of reports say NASA's management and culture should share the blame. Findings from the accident have significance in all operations because organizational culture, management systems, and effective thinking are required in all fields. Quality professionals must be placed in decision-making positions in all organizations. While press coverage of the accident reinforces the assumption that NASA's organizational culture failed, those in NASA responsible for quality are learning fast. The culture is changing. Concerns are being heard, actions are being taken, and operational safety is improving. People are learning that the plan-do-study-act cycle works. Peter Drucker pointed out that objectives set for an organization are really managerial goals set for the managers. Managers need to be on the operating line in flat organizations that require real-time and rapid decision!making. NASA's leadership has demonstrated its ability to accept responsibility and change. Quality professionals will have opportunities to learn from NASA's past events and future programs. Sidebar articles provide additional sources of information and insight into troubles ahead for the aviation, space and defense industry.

Keywords

Lessons learned, Aerospace industry, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Organizational culture, Continuous improvement (CI), Leadership, Cultural change, Quality control (QC), Management commitment


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