While we didn’t realize it, we were all engaged in an over 10-year plan to keep IBM as the provider for the onboard computers and software for the Space Station. The Shuttle was designed and built in the ’70s as a “Space Truck” – you could fit a School Bus in the Payload Bay. Its mission was to build the Space Station – the next element in a chain that started with the first space experiment Explorer in the 1950s. My work would be pulling those pieces together – using the truck to put up a basic science experiment that could allow modern computers to be used. Would I be Right, or Effective, or neither??
Leadership topic - Right vs Effective
As a leader or follower, we are all working to change or deliver something? How do we balance the risk between these 2 elements… and benefit from that for us?
Continuing to follow Benny Goodman’s career, he will leverage the platform he has developed to change the face of music. Both in content and in contributors, he steps out and “solos” by bringing more Black musicians to prominence. While he started on the side of the stage, by the end of the week you will see him, and them, on the biggest and most famous Hall of music in the world.
Meanwhile, I will be working to bring a similarly diverse set of teams together across disciplines, companies, and agendas to put modern electronics on-board the Space Shuttle. Weaving between Physics, Engineering, Manufacturing, and always working through relationships, a consistent question will ring out… in both these story lines..
What is Right vs. Effective? It is not as easy as it appears, and often for our current initiatives, stepping back off stage will give you a new view to consider. And hopefully a few of the mistakes that Benny and I get pounded about may be helpful… or at least, colorful examples to consider.
managing Right Effectively
“Don’t be ridiculous. I have just invested $15 Million dollars in your development. Now get back to work”. With that, the young executive exited the CEO’s office with his letter of resignation torn in half and handed to him. He had gone from one of the top executives in the company to losing the current equivalent of $200 Million dollars. Thankfully not me, but that investment Rightly paid off as he was our Executive… and an outstanding and Effective manager 25 years later when I joined his team in Houston.
Effectively partnering Right
As I watched the fog roll across the bay, the Golden Gate Bridge was the first to disappear. Then San Francisco became just a soft glow. Now the fog was over Berkeley and coming up the hills where it was 3 am. Completely covered now, the moon was just a glow, and I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face. I stepped back inside just in time to help my partners change out the current device for the next one in our testing. I was standing inside of one of the world’s most powerful devices – yes – inside…
observing Right Effectively
As we were chatting before dinner in the large ballroom, I was surrounded by the “royalty” of the Radiation Effect community. Admittedly a little off the main road of the IEEE, it was nonetheless THE place to meet, greet, and talk with everyone who knew anything about Radiation effects. The decor had some eggs on the buffet bar as a garnish – and you would assume they would be hard-boiled. Our Principal Investigator, a jokester, picked one up and cracked it on the man standing next to me… where it exploded all over his bald head…
The wonder of Effectively Right
The sun wasn’t up as we rose for the 3 am bus ride. We were up early because the time of the launch was 7 am, and with traffic near the Cape, we didn’t want to be late. I had been invited to come down for the launch of our experiment which, through no small set of wonders, we had Effectively completed on time and within the Right budget. It was now stowed in the back of the Space Shuttle and was about to blast off with STS Mission 41-G, the 17th flight.
Effectively executing Right
Sitting in the conference room waiting, I was nervous about what was about to happen. The experiment had been a success, and we should be celebrating as a group, an Effective use of all of the talents of the team. Sadly, I had jumped the gun and helped get attention through my friends in communications, and now they wanted to feature the team in an upcoming publication. Sadly, it was not the Right thing to do, and the rest of the team was furious with me, particularly the group that was supposed to be “in charge”. And, my boss had accompanied me up to be confronted and what I thought would be an execution by the other members of the team…
Effecting Right renewal
We were wrapping up one of our last tests at Berkeley, up the hill further, into the Bevatron – a device that is a football field in diameter – such that it can generate Billions of electron Volts per particle. As such, you don’t need a vacuum, and simply set up your target in an open room. Surrounded by thick concrete, we were just taking down our computer when an ambulance arrived. A young 14-year-old was wheeled into the same spot, and a large metal mask put over most of his head – a small hole where the beam would go into his brain…