Group Process in the Challenger Launch Decision (A)
A. The Challenger tragedy was the result of willful human negligence, flawed decision making and the lack of immediate action despite the ominous warnings from senior technical staff.
B. Identification of Problem Causes
Engineer R.M. Boisjoly, an expert on booster seal joints with 27 years of experience employed by Morton Thiokol, Inc discovered, advised and communicated to management a serious issue that involved erosion in the O-rings located in the SRM joints. After performing tests, this engineer also suggested that O-rings do not work as well in low temperatures. Thiokol briefed NASA regarding this problem but failed to provide detail data.
C. Listing of Possible Alternatives to Solve Problem (brainstorm, be creative) (your three “best” ideas)
1. Communication must flow effectively up and down the chain of command.
2. Better technical decision-making by top NASA and contractor personnel.
3. Act decisively to solve any case with anomalies in the Solid Rocket Booster joints or any parts of the shuttle.
I. Recommendation Section/Action Steps
It was obvious that the communication did not flow effectively through the chain of command. This should have been communicated to all parties within enough time rather than to wait for a last minute decision. A effective way to communicate and take action should be part of a process that must be available to all groups including upper management, vendors, and NASA personnel without violating any confidentiality established rules. The seal ring database was known to be flawed. Ideas, suggestions and objections were solicited, but none of the stakeholders stated anything. An agenda should have been defined, hence NASA were surprised by the Thiokol O-ring presentation and ‘appalled’ by their decision not to launch. Conflict management was avoided by NASA’s domination of...