A Management Decision


Summarizing a post from Reddit about decisions of Managers vs. Engineers:

The night before the space shuttle Challenger disaster on Jan28, 1986, a 3-way conference was held between Morton-Thiokol, Inc (MTI), the Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) and the Kennedy Space Center (KSC). This conference was organized at the last minute to address temperature concerns raised by engineers who had learned that temperatures were dropping below 20°F. Decades of data and the specs showed the rocket boosters  should never be operated below 40°F.

Launch go / no-go votes had to be unanimous.

MTI recommended not launching based off the engineer's data. MSFC personnel rejected and pushed back, insisting MTI managers to go back and “reevaluate the data.” The MTI general manager told the VP of Engineering: “Take off your engineering hat and put on your management hat.” With that pressure, the VP changed his vote to “go.”

On the MTI side there were 4 managers and 4 engineers. All 8 initially voted against launch; after MSFC’s pressure, all 4 managers voted “go.” The engineers still voted “no-go” but were excluded from the final vote.

 “We knew they didn’t want to launch. We had listened to their reasons and emotion, but in the end we had to make a management decision.”

A management decision.

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