I love the movie “Apollo 13“. I have seen it dozens of times and I never get tired of watching the heroic efforts to save that ill-fated mission to the moon. “Failure is not an option!” shouts Gene Kranz (Ed Harris). Ken Mattingly (Gary Sinise) works day and night to figure out how to power-up the iced-over electronics in the Command Module. My favorite scene was when they dumped all those parts on the table and began designing a new CO2 filter (“We have to fit a round peg in a square hole”).
Most projects – at least those with any significant size and scope – seem to operate in the same manner. Obstacles arise. Milestones are missed. People get discouraged, and they become defensive over their work. You hear “that can’t be done” or “that’s not my job” as the project starts to spin out of control.
Rosabeth Moss Kanter said “Everything looks like failure in the middle.”
What we need are everyday hero’s like those astronauts and mission control engineers. We need people who step up and take responsibility when the project starts to veer off course. We need creative, out-of-the-box thinking. We need selfless acts of courage, without concern over who gets the credit.
I might not be able to rescue an Apollo space mission, but I can rescue my project.
Thanks for listening.