Skip to main content

A Leader Should Know How to Manage Failure

India Knowledge@Wharton:

Could you give an example, from your own experience, of how leaders should manage failure ?
Kalam: Let me tell you about my experience. In 1973 I became the project director of India's satellite launch vehicle program, commonly called the SLV-3. Our goal was to put India's "Rohini" satellite into orbit by1980. I was given funds and human resources -- but was told clearly that by 1980 we had to launch the satellite into space. Thousands of people worked together in scientific and technical teams towards that goal.

By 1979 -- I think the month was August -- we thought we were ready. As the project director, I went to the control center for the launch. At four minutes before the satellite launch, the computer began to go through the checklist of items that needed to be checked. One minute later, the computer program put the launch on hold; the display showed that some control components were not in order. My experts -- I had four or five of them with me -- told me not to worry; they had done their calculations and there was enough reserve fuel. So I bypassed the computer, switched to manual mode, and launched the rocket. In the first stage, everything worked fine. In the second stage, a problem developed. Instead of the satellite going into orbit, the whole rocket system plunged into the Bay of Bengal. It was a big failure.

That day, the chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization, Prof. Satish Dhawan, had called a press conference. The launch was at 7:00 am, and the press conference -- where journalists from around the world were present -- was at 7:45 am at ISRO's satellite launch range in Sriharikota [in Andhra Pradesh in southern India]. Prof. Dhawan, the leader of the organization, conducted the press conference himself. He took responsibility for the failure -- he said that the team had worked very hard, but that it needed more technological support. He assured the media that in another year, the team would definitely succeed.

Now, I was the project director, and it was my failure, but instead, he took responsibility for the failure as chairman of the organization. The next year, in July 1980, we tried again to launch the satellite -- and this time we succeeded. The whole nation was jubilant.




Again, there was a press conference. Prof. Dhawan called me aside and told me, "You conduct the press conference today."

I learned a very important lesson that day. When failure occurred, the leader of the organization owned that failure. When success came, he gave it to his team. The best management lesson I have learned did not come to me from reading a book; it came from that experience.

Regards,

Santosh Puthran
AICWA
Add to Technorati Favorites
Do you like to be updated in Accountancy ?

Subscribe to Management Accountant by Email


Or

Subscribe in a reader


SAP Store, UK


Are you looking for something ? You will find it in MA Stores - Powered By Amazon

US Stores
UK Stores
Digital Stores, US


You may also like to read
  1. Honda 50cc Bike - Imposed Strategy
  2. Red Monkey Innovation
  3. World's 50 most innovative companies
  4. Resistance to Change
  5. Strategic Drift
  6. Strategic Development
  7. Books of Mintzberg on Amazon
  8. Books of Philip Kotler
  9. Porter's Diamond
  10. Understanding Three Stages of Change

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Throughput Accounting

Throughput accounting (TA) is an alternative to cost accounting proposed by Eliyahu M. Goldratt. It is not based on Standard Costing or Activity Based Costing (ABC). Throughput Accounting is not costing and it does not allocate costs to products and services. It can be viewed as business intelligence for profit maximization. Conceptually throughput accounting seeks to increase the velocity at which products move through an organization by eliminiating bottlenecks within the organization.


Cost (or Management) accounting is an organization's internal method used to measure efficiency. Since no one outside the organization uses such internal accounts for investment or other decisions, any methods that an organization finds helpful can be used.


Throughput accounting improves profit performance with better management decisions by using measurements that more closely reflect the effect of decisions on three critical monetary variables (throughput, inventory, and operating expense — defin…

Learning Curve Theory

Learning Curve Theory is concerned with the idea that when a new job, process or activity commences for the first time it is likely that the workforce involved will not achieve maximum efficiency immediately. Repetition of the task is likely to make the people more confident and knowledgeable and will eventually result in a more efficient and rapid operation. Eventually the learning process will stop after continually repeating the job. As a consequence the time to complete a task will initially decline and then stabilise once efficient working is achieved. The cumulative average time per unit is assumed to decrease by a constant percentage every time that output doubles. Cumulative average time refers to the average time per unit for all units produced so far, from and including the first one made.

Major areas within management accounting where learning curve theory is likely to have consequences and suggest potential limitations of this theory.


Areas of consequence:
A Standard Costing

Resistence to Change - Approaches of Kotter and Schlesinger

The Six (6) Change Approaches of Kotter and Schlesinger is a model to prevent, decrease or minimize resistance to change in organizations.
According to Kotter and Schlesinger (1979), there are four reasons that certain people are resisting change: Parochial self-interest (some people are concerned with the implication of the change for themselves ad how it may effect their own interests, rather than considering the effects for the success of the business)Misunderstanding(communication problems; inadequate information)Low tolerance to change (certain people are very keen on security and stability in their work)Different assessments of the situation (some employees may disagree on the reasons for the change and on the advantages and disadvantages of the change process) Kotter and Schlesinger set out the following six (6) change approaches to deal with this resistance to change: Education and Communication - Where there is a lack…