Presentation on theme: "(Clockwise starting in left back row) Ellison S. Onizuka, Mission Specialist Sharon Christa Mc Auliffe, Teacher Greg Jarvis, Payload Specialist."— Presentation transcript:
(Clockwise starting in left back row) Ellison S. Onizuka, Mission Specialist Sharon Christa Mc Auliffe, Teacher Greg Jarvis, Payload Specialist Judy Resnick, Mission Specialist Ron McNair, Mission Specialist Dick Scobee, Commander Mike Smith, Pilot
My purpose is to analyze the communication and organizational behavior components that played a significant role in the Challenger space shuttle tragedy. Image of the Challenger Space Shuttle crash of 1986.
Where did the communication breakdowns occur in this tragedy? What could have been done to have prevented these communication breakdowns and the ultimate explosion? How did formal roles and reliance on the chain of command influence the events? Are the communication problems that led up to the launch decisions inevitable in complex, hierarchical organizations? What role did structural design play in this event?
Where did the communication breakdowns occur in this tragedy? › NASA was unaware of recommendations by MTI (Morton Thiokol International) advising against the launch. Temperatures below 53 degrees were deemed unsafe (NASA, 1986). Constant opposing views on safety by MTI engineers and upper management further contributed to the breakdowns in communication. › They disagreed over the seriousness of the O-ring problem › They failed to use the same communication style for better understanding. (Winsor, 1988).
Winsor states, “Communication is not just shared information; it is shared interpretation” (p. 101, 1988). › Implies that information was received, but there was a failure by NASA to properly interpret its severity. › The O-ring failure should not have been as unexpected as it was. Management at Marshall appeared to have the tendency to withhold important information rather than bringing it forward (NASA, 1986). › Portrayed Marshall as a part of the system not interfacing or communicating with the other parts to produce successful flight missions
What could have been done to have prevented these communication breakdowns and the ultimate explosion? › There could have been more coordination between MTI, Marshall and NASA. Integration would have ensured that the overall goals of each organization were achieved (Anthony, Gales, & Hodge, 2003). Major goal: To have a safe, successful flight mission The engineers and managers of MTI could have developed a communication style that Marshall and NASA would have been able to interpret and understand.
How did formal roles and reliance on the chain of command influence the events? › Three main organizations put pressure on NASA to launch the Challenger as quickly as possible. Military Congress Media (Neuner & Rider, n.d.) Without the pressure from these organizations, the Challenger wouldn’t have been rushed to launch. › May have prevented overlooking technical problems with the shuttle
Morton Thiokol International (MTI) › Contractor responsible for solid rocket boosters (Winsor, p. 101). Between MTI engineers, management in NASA, and Marshall Space Center, news moved slowly. › “News moved slowly among the organizations because they were in a hierarchical relationship, with MTI dependent on Marshall for the contract and Marshall dependent on NASA for funds and career opportunities” (Winsor, p. 101).
Are the communication problems that led up to the launch decisions inevitable in complex, hierarchical organizations? › Miscommunication is inevitable to some extent when dealing with different corporate roles, agendas and personalities. › Because there are so many levels, communication is especially vital. › Unfortunately, in this situation, it was a matter of life and death.
Differences in corporate roles lead to greater difficulty in communicating (Winsor, p. 101). › Concerns and values often differ › Levels of experience are broad Lower-level employees are more likely to pass bad news upward than middle- high level management. Why? › In this situation, politics were involved at the higher level. › Pressure to succeed grows stronger as you go up the hierarchical ladder.
What role did structural design play in this event? › The structural design of NASA was lacking.. Adequate planning and control systems Adequate procedures and policies for safe practices Structure for centralized decision-making Decisions were being made at all levels of employment The military, Congress, and the media swayed the decision to launch, thus straying further away from centralized decision-making With as big of an organization as NASA, decision-making should be centralized.
Failure to communicate effectively allowed warnings to be dismissed on the part of MTI, Marshall and NASA. Communication breakdowns resulted from opposing perspectives and mismatched communication styles. Hierarchical pressure was evident and the decision to launch was influenced by this pressure. Structural design impacted the ability to effectively communicate.
It seems that MTI and Marshall both did not want to acknowledge safety standards were not all up to par because of hierarchical pressure to launch on time. “Even when MTI engineers came to believe that a problem existed, they had a difficult time convincing management” of the severity, as well as Marshall, which both shared the same opposing perspective (Winsor, p. 106). Although the Challenger crash was the result of various technical problems, the ultimate cause of the crash was the communication breakdown.
Anthony, W. P., Gales, L. M., & Hodge, B. J. (2003). Organization Theory: A Strategic Approach (6 th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc. NASA. (1986, February 3). Report of the Presidential Commission on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident. Retrieved August 24, 2010, from: commission/table-of-contents.html Neuner, K., & Rider, J. (n.d.). The Challenger Disaster. Retrieved on August 24, 2010, from:
Winsor, D. A. (1988). Communication Failures in the Challenger Accident. IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, vol. 31, no doi: Retrieved August 24, 2010, from: Cover Image models-on-the-challenger/ Seven Astronauts Image MB58.html
Challenger Explosion Image- Astronaut in Air Image- _space_shuttle_challenger_astronaut_mccandles_wallpapers.ht ml