Thursday, August 09, 2007

Why We Need to Hear Everyone

Diverse groups can reach good decisions, but only if they can bring that diversity to bear. James Surowiecki tells the cautionary tale of how NASA failed to listen to its own internal warnings about the shuttle Columbia while it was in the air, and before it blew up on re-entry, because its groups were run by the boss, who only asked for the information she has already decided she wanted to hear. (She reminded our family of the officious toady Delores Umbridge in the Harry Potter stories.) The group had the right diversity of experience available, but shut it off. It may seem bogus, but going around the room and soliciting dissent really is useful to the whole group. Sometimes it even saves lives.

1 comment:

tribalchurch said...

Sadly, I lived this. I heard about it around the dinner table. My father was working at NASA. He knew the o-rings would become brittle. But it's true. There was a culture there...