Failure Is Not an Option
By Gene Kranz (2000)
It’s a unique environment:
- Everything needs to be ironed out beforehand. Alternatives need to be fleshed out, procedures for every case defined
- You can’t brainstorm, argue or second-guess during countdown
Otherwise, it’s business as usual:
My team respected me because I did the dirty work and never pulled rank. I assigned the work responsibilities and once I set up the plan I stuck to it. I took the risks to let people stretch and grow and I took the heat, and deserved it, especially when I decided there would be no holidays, no vacations.
Apollo succeeded at critical moments like this because the bosses had no hesitation about assigning crucial tasks to one individual, trusting his judgment, and then getting out of his way.
Success belonged to the team; failure was ultimately my responsibility.
Trust is key in our business. If someone says a problem is closed, it is closed. In flight control, if you didn’t have trust in your fellow controllers you could not get the job done.
I also thought about the legacy of my generation: trust, values, teamwork.