Case study: The Challenger and Columbia Shuttle Disaster

Q 1- What aspects of NASA practice revealed in the aftermath of the Columbia disaster suggest that the changes sought in the aftermath of the Challenger disaster were snot consolidated?

Ans: 1. The external tank of shuttle was designed with a layer of insulating tiles that were designed to stick to the tank, not to be shed. Similarly shuttle heat shield was not designed to be damaged (tiles was very fragile, so that the shuttle was not allowed to fly in rain.) 2. Most of the time in past the Foam fall off and tiles also damaged but didn¶t affect the functioning of shuttle. So the management team thought that there was no ³safety of flight issue´. In the case of Columbia disaster this was the main cause. 3. The NASA was assuming that if any disaster happens regarding foam and tiles then noting can be done but later the experts concluded that there are two alternatives to handle this type of problems (a) they can repair the damaged part or (b) they can rescue the crew through a speed up launch of the shuttle Atlantis. 4. Program manager create huge barriers against disseminating opinions by stating preconceived conclusions based on subjective knowledge and experience rather than on factual data. 5. NASA managers were not providing all the relevant information to the decision makers in Columbia mission. 6. There was not any improvement in the level of NASA funding. 7. Still they were focusing on ³Faster, Better & cheaper´ 8. Maintaining tight operational schedule

Management reformed but the organizational culture remains unchanged because: 1. Inadequate concern over deviation from expected performance 2. A silent safety program. They were not disclosing the weakness of the programme to the other functional areas teams. 3. Still they had very tight schedule pressure.

Evolution of informal chain of command and decision making process Lack of integrated management. 3. Inadequate financing to cut cost Communication barrier All the final decisions were taken by management team only. The experts suggested NASA to restructure of management. 2. Q-2: This chapter provides a discussion of actions can be taken to consolidate change.Organizational communication barrier: 1. but the problem in NASA was:a) b) c) d) e) f) Their geographically dispersed matrix organization Their tight schedule and increase pressure on employee to meet the schedule Due to matrix organization there were no proper co-ordination & co-operation. Preventive effective communication of critical safety information Difference of opinion between management and experts. . Which of the following do u see as most applicable to addressing the situation described in this case? y y y y y y y y Redesign roles Redesign reward system Link selection decisions to change objectives Act consistently with advocated actions Encourage voluntary acts of initiatives Measure progress Celebrate en route Fine-tune Ans: the most important thing is redesign roles and ³act consistently with advocated actions because after the Challenger disaster the expert team recommended so many safety and technology improvement tips but the management team didn t worked properly and worked on the basis of their own old organizational culture and finally the outcome was Columbia disaster. work on factual data etc. 4. redesign of booster joints.

So they need to improve their hierarchy gap and the management team should encourage the employee to share the experience and opinions. They didn t focus on technology advancement. They were expecting some unexpected outcomes that may destroy the shuttle. They were not working properly as recommended by the experts. But the management teams were working according to their own policies and plans. The main reason of Columbia disaster is that they didn t worked properly as recommended by the experts. They are not always ready to listen experts and engineers. The experts suggested them about the suitable weather condition for Challenger but the management team didn t suppose their advice and they launched the shuttle and the shuttle destroyed.Thee need of the redesign role is because there is an informal hierarchy and all the major decision is taken by the management team only. Q. This chapter provides some words of cautions in terms of what to be alert to in regard to consolidation. . Because the experts always recommended NASA to work in safe side. They focus on their past experience rather than technology advancement. So it is necessary for them to work consistently as recommended. So the conclusion is that management teams should expect some unanticipated outcomes and work to solve the problems.3. Their major problem is the communication barrier also. The second case is about Foam and Tiles where the management team took it lightly and the result is Columbia disaster. They didn t take seriously about foam and tiles problem while it was very common in all the flights and finally became the main cause of Columbia disaster. Which of the following do you see as most applicable to addressing the situation described in this case? y y y y y Expect some unanticipated outcomes Be alert to measurement limitations Don t declare victory too soon Beware escalation of commitment Recognize productive failures Ans: The most applicable thing is expect some unanticipated outcomes .

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