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What your company can learn from NASA tragedies
Date:1/30/2014

Madsen found. When leaders have carried out those two stepsincreasing the safety climate and emphasizing the significance of projectsnear-misses have been better catalogued and used to improve operations.

Unfortunately, Columbia launched during an era of low near-miss reporting at NASA.

An investigation into the crash revealed that the failure that ultimately doomed the Columbia (foam debris striking the orbiter) happened on at least seven prior launches. On each of those, good fortune intervened. They were near-misses that became successes.

NASA's own Columbia Accident Investigation Board identified NASA's safety climate as a primary cause for its inability to see foam loss as a near-miss, stating, "NASA had conflicting goals of cost, schedule, and safety. Safety lost out."

"A lot of safety improvements have happened after a disaster and they shine light on the deficiencies in the system," Madsen said. "If you can pick up on those deficiencies before something happens, that's the gold standard."

Madsen's connections to NASA go back to the time of Columbia's loss, when he was in graduate school at U.C. Berkeley. His dissertation adviser was a well-known organizational safety expert, which led to Madsen and other Ph.D. students being assigned to work with NASA to research safety procedures.

He's continued his contacts with NASA ever since and Edward W. Rogers, chief knowledge officer at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, is a coauthor on this study. Robin Dillon, of Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business, served as lead author.


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Contact: Todd Hollingshead
toddh@byu.edu
801-422-8373
Brigham Young University
Source:Eurekalert

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