management blog - failure is not an option
One of my heroes is Gene Kranz who is famous as the Flight Director on the Apollo 13 mission to the Moon. As I am sure you are aware, Apollo 13 never landed on the Moon; it had to use the Moon’s gravity as a catapult to return to earth. I remember this story, not from the brilliant movie starring Tom Hanks, but, watching the news as it unfolded. I was very young but remember the drama of it all vividly.
There is doubts weather Gene said it as depicted in the movie in the heat of the battle. It is irrelevant really; it is still a brilliant statement. In the film it, Gene uses it as a call to action to everyone working in the operations room to get everyone home. Of course, in a dynamic environment in the workplace, statements like this are excellent, it gets us to focus on the job at hand and a brilliant team motivator.
I also use this statement to reinforce that every mistake is a learning opportunity. Remember this isn’t a cop-out statement that many people will think, we aren’t pretending that everything is going well, that’s delusional. What I am saying is that when we do make mistakes, we think about it in a manner that we have taken something from experience; what we have learnt from the process and more importantly, what we are going to do differently next time.
As a manager, we will make mistakes, and things will go wrong, this is an absolute fact. However, having the right attitude to when things go wrong ensures that a failure is never an option.