Apollo_Lunar_surface_journals - 4/2/07 16.895 Book Review...

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4/2/07 16.895 Book Review Assignment Space Age Management: The Large Scale Approach by Jim Webb “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” -Peter F. Drucker There has been much said about the unique challenges that NASA’s Program Apollo faced and overcame in its efforts to ensure that the United States of America was to meet President Kennedy’s goal: “before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.” 1 The engineering and scientific difficulties were manifold, with a diverse and supremely talented workforce assembled to themselves devise a complex system with millions of synchronous components and interdependent processes, little time or resources to exhaustively test every possible scenario, and even less margin for error. To have succeeded at all, much less in so comprehensive a fashion, much less while always “pushing the edge of the envelope”, much less while prevailing over unexpected and tragic setbacks, speaks highly of American global technical superiority during the height of the Cold War. Less widely acclaimed, though equally deserving of any and all credit given the rocket scientist wizards who literally charted our path to the cosmos, are the men charged with the less celestial though arguably as or more critical roles of managing such a behemoth enterprise and seeing it to achievement. These men were the taskmasters, slavedrivers, and horsetraders who to the highest degree not only guarded the bustling and star-spangled sanctum of the engineers from the earthly impediments that often did not share the same political priorities and objectives, but also kept a project of immense proportions, staffed by people of incredible talent and creativity, moving in the same direction with the sights always set firmly on our nearest heavenly neighbor. These men made Apollo possible, with the right people in the right places at the right time. It is easy, and human nature, to assume after the triumphant realization of a hard-earned goal that the outcome, though it was challenged from time to time by inconvenient obstacles on its way, was never truly in doubt. This is especially true for second-hand observers, decades after the fact, in whose mindset the accomplishment has always had existed. A revealing view about the “certainty” of NASA’s success in Project Apollo can be found, therefore, in a tome
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This note was uploaded on 11/08/2011 for the course AERO 16.872 taught by Professor Danielhastings during the Fall '03 term at MIT.

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Apollo_Lunar_surface_journals - 4/2/07 16.895 Book Review...

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