Friday, March 30, 2012

On getting to the root of the problem

So, I read an article posted on Slashdot this morning that I found very interesting. It deals with a bad bit of culture at NASA and how it led to both the Challenger disaster and the bad mirror on the Hubble telescope. You can read it here. My takeaway from it is that sometimes the real cause of a failure isn't the obvious one. My grandpa had a saying: "Once is coincidence. Twice is happenstance. Three times is enemy action.". The way I understand that is that if something is happening over and over again, it's time to start looking for why it's happening and deal with it. The battle cry is usually that the grunts don't have time to because they're too busy fighting fires. My opinion is that at that point, it's time for the manager to step up and dedicate resources to eliminating that problem. Because if your nominal state is one of treating the same symptoms over and over, you won't have time to fix new problems. And there will always be new problems.

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