Ecus launches 2021 lunchtime learning with NASA presentation

NASA case study - a virtual presentation on organisational change and communication

Ecus Communications Team
Written by:

Ecus Communications Team

February 2, 2021

We kick-started 2021’s lunchtime learning sessions last week and were delighted to welcome (virtually) a fantastic guest speaker, Stephen Carver from the Cranfield School of Management.

Stephen is rated as one of the top lecturers at one of Europe’s leading MBA Business Schools, and has a reputation of taking complex management concepts such as Project, Programme Change and Crisis Management and being able to distil them into highly informative and fun lectures. Regional Director Kit Hawkins first saw Stephen speak almost a decade ago, and knew that Stephen’s inimitable style, combined with the moving and compelling content was a great way to start 2021’s lunchtime learning sessions.

The presentation on ‘Leadership in NASA’ took in both the Challenger (January 1986) and Columbia (February 2003) disasters and commenced with a shake-down of the questionable origins of the NASA team itself, and described in detail the events leading up to the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger just one minute after launch.

NASA Presentation - Stephen Carver

NASA Presentation – by Stephen Carver

As the world looked on horrified, few realised that this was an inevitable accident that had been predicted by the designers for years. Indeed, the day before the key engineers believed that there was “essentially a 100% probability of disaster”.

After the accident, NASA embarked upon major management reforms. Sadly the reforms failed to address the real cultural issues within NASA and as a result over the subsequent years safety standards and relationships slipped once more.

Then, in February 2003, the Space Shuttle Columbia burned up on re-entry and the entire crew perished. The chilling fact was that this was a management repeat of the Challenger disaster – NASA had not truly learned the lessons of the past.

Virtual Presentation on Ecus Laptop

Virtual Presentation on Ecus Laptop

The fast paced and hugely interactive session delivered a fantastic insight into the vital role of culture in organisations, and delivered some poignant messages, which will be remembered long for all those who attended:

  • The importance of real communication
  • Removing silos and driving a no-blame culture
  • Inter-team and inter-organisational co-ordination
  • Keeping organisational learning alive
  • The dangers of Groupthink

Ecus will be hosting more learning and knowledge-sharing sessions, focussing on different topics, themes and technical services, throughout the year.