On 28 January 1986 the space shuttle challenger had a fatal accident. 73 seconds into its flight it broke apart and exploded killing all seven crew members on board. I remember watching the story on the news.
I also remember reading two contrasting explanations of why the accident took place. One described how there was a failure of two redundant O-ring seals on the Space Shuttle’s right solid rocket booster which started the process that led to disaster.
The other described how those mechanical issues had been known for over ten years. But, politics, expectations, and a culture of not wanting to tell people bad news, meant that come the launch decision a disastrous risk was taken.
I will never be responsible for launching a spaceship. But the underlying truth that the causes of outcomes are often complex, subtle, and inter-related was one that has remained with me. Human factors often loom large.
Working in organisational design and development at the University means that we see this interplay of factors and systems again and again. Our aim with this blog is to draw out some of the learning we have gathered through our experiences of working with different teams and departments. Some insights may be more applicable at an individual level, others at a team level. Hopefully all will provoke thought, and ideally comment and conversation.
We have a few topics lined up over the next few months, but if there’s anything you’d like to hear about, do let us know in the comments section below.
Ed Webster, Deputy Director of Workforce Development, Department of Human Resources.
How interesting, looking forward to reading more!
Great topic base, when's the next instalment?!
Hi Mo, thank you for your interest. This is a monthly blog released in the second week of each month. You can subscribe to the blog which will notify you by email when the new blog has been published.