Friday, January 19, 2007

Moonwalks as management feats

Until recently, if you asked me to name the heroes of the U.S. space program, I would have chosen astronauts -- guys like Neil Armstrong and John Glenn. Then I read Inside NASA, an academic press book reporting a study into the culture norms within the National Aeronautics and Space Administration conducted by American University professor Howard McCurdy. McCurdy interviewed hundreds of NASA insiders, and one of the questions he asked was whom they considered the heroes of the space program. He heard names like Hugh Dryden, Robert Gilruth, Robert Seamans, George Low, and Abe Silverstein. Who were they? “When asked to identify the heroes of the American space program,” writes McCurdy, “NASA engineers and scientists interviewed for this study invariably named their top managers.” Managers as the heroes of the Space Race? That's what got me going on the book I'm working on now, a look at how NASA managed to put a man on the moon.

The main repository, by the way, for material relating to how Apollo was managed is the NASA History Division -- lots of free e-books to read, too, if you happen to get bitten by the space bug.

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