Rush To Failure Essay

2581 words - 11 pages



Case Study
A complex project for the space station must
come in on time and on budget—but the push
for speed might be its undoing. by Tom Cross

The Experts

A Rush
To Failure?

Gary L. Moe
Director, McKinsey Business
Technology Office



Tom Quinly
President, CurtissWright Controls

HBR’s case studies present fictionalized
accounts of actual dilemmas faced by
leaders, and offer solutions from experts.

here is absolutely no reason why
the contractors shouldn’t be able
to give us rapid product development and awless products—speed and
quality both,” David MacDonagle said as he
tried to light a cigarette. The ...view middle of the document...

The sight reminded Van
Sant of one of MacDonagle’s catchphrases:
“We are a small spacefaring nation.…”
Canada was indeed a small player in
space compared with the U.S., Russia,
Europe, and Japan. Always at risk of being
marginalized, the CAA had done everything possible to get the REACH contractors, Hollenbeck Aircraft and Eskina
Software Systems, to complete the rst
phase of the project in time to get it to the
space station this year, when the orbiting lab would o cially be complete. And,
amazingly, they had made the deadline—
and come in on budget. REACH was now
attached to the station, though there was
still much more to come, including an even
April 2011 Harvard Business Review 127


more sophisticated set of “hands” that
would t on the ends of the robotic arms
for extremely delicate work. The additions
were to continue for two more years.
The contractors had been great about
speed; the problem was quality. Glitches
with the software, motors, and circuits
had kept turning up. The fact was, not a
single test in four years had gone awlessly.
“Yeah, yeah, we can x that,” the contractors’ reps always said, dismissing the CAA’s
concerns. “Hey, this is life in the fast lane,”
a rep told Van Sant after one of REACH’s
arms had failed to retract on command.
“Remember, we told you that the compressed schedule would increase the risk.”
The contract that she managed called
for parallel development, meaning that
the project’s phases—R&D, prototyping,
testing, production, and quality control—
overlapped, with each one beginning while
the previous one was as much as 50%
incomplete. That was sacrilege in some
aerospace circles. But owing to the space
station’s construction deadline and the
ever-present threat of cuts to the CAA’s
budget, the agency was aiming to do a
decade’s worth of work in six years. Computer simulations had to take the place
of some real-world testing. Component
quality control was less thorough. Because
of all the unknowns in the project, the CAA
had agreed to a cost-plus- xed-fee contract, under which the contractors were
paid a speci ed amount over their costs for
labor, materials, and overhead.
MacDonagle’s insistence on a rapid
approach to development had been one of
the main reasons Van Sant had been hired
as a program manager. During her years in
the army, she had established a bulletproof
reputation for being aggressive and goal
oriented. She and MacDonagle saw eye-toeye. She knew speed was critical.
“We’d better go, I guess,” MacDonagle
said. “The media hounds are waiting.
I told them I’d do quickie interviews once
I got back. I know what they’ll ask me:
Is REACH going to work this time?” As
they headed toward the building, the rain
started. He looked at Van Sant. “So is it?”
128 Harvard Business Review April 2011

“I know what the media
hounds will ask me: Is
REACH going to work
this time?” MacDonagle

sues with equipment from the...

Other Essays Like Rush to Failure

Romeo And Juliet Essay

1203 words - 5 pages responsibility or reproach others failure due the tragic outcome, their grief and regret has nothing to do because fate decides everything that they must encounter}. Since fate has already decided everything that happens to the individuals, they have no choice to be prisoners of fate even if they experience a sense of the outcome. [Fate knows that Romeo and Juliet meet and fall in love instantly even before all the tragedy happen all because they are

Financial Crisis Essay

870 words - 4 pages crisis. Financial crisis, basically directly results to a loss in paper wealth and not necessarily in changes in the real economy. Financial crisis in the banking sector occurs when banks suffer sudden rush of withdrawals by their depositors. This poses a difficulty on the banks part since they cannot quickly repay all the deposits when suddenly demanded hence rendering them insolvent hence causing the depositors to lose their deposits. This

7 Habits of Highly Effective People Book Summary

1015 words - 5 pages as a result. Proactive approach to a mistake is to acknowledge it instantly, correct and learn from it, turn failure into a success. 2. Begin with the end in mind (leadership) Means to start with a clear understanding of your destination, to know where you’re going so that you better understand where you are now and so the steps you take are always in the right direction. We may be very busy, we may be very efficient, but we will also be truly

Response To John Thackera's, “Introduction, ” In The Bubble: Designing In A Complex World

758 words - 4 pages positioning and more about a dominating capitalistic structure. This is something that he appears to confront, although without directly naming it, when he suggests the solutions for “a less-stuff-more-people world”. He gives us list of socially orientated systems that, in direct opposition to capitalism, are entrenched with a marxist agenda. As Thackera states, structures that place technology above peoples, are doomed to failure citing the dot-com

Conducting Business In China: Negotiating And Building Effective Relationships

996 words - 4 pages Since the 1980's, international business has been on the rise. Negotiating and building effective relationships is vital for the success of Westerners conducting business in China.BACKGROUNDAs with most Asians, where ritual and personal relationships are a vital part of the smooth functioning of society, Chinese business people do not rush into discussion or negotiations. The Chinese want to get acquainted before they do business. They also want

Slp Assignment 4

739 words - 3 pages .. The assessment was not as in-depth as tests for organizational culture. The questions were somewhat inadequate, and did not really dive is that the organization will gain new ideas on how it will be able to change its culture for the better. True/False Questions 1. I know how my projects contribute to the success or failure of our organization. True 2. Management here makes lots of announcements to employees. True 3. I have colleagues

Choosing A Car

778 words - 4 pages balance is paid off. Leasing has a slightly lower monthly payment, but you do not own the vehicle. However you reserve the right to trade in your vehicle at any time for any reason. Buying a new vehicle does not free it from mechanical failure. Most new vehicle’s come with a warranty that protects the car against any defect it might have. You should look into how long the warranty last, and to what extent of the vehicle does the warranty cover

We Should Skydive To Work

1578 words - 7 pages skydiving is the failure of the canopy. In the number of fatal injuries in skydiving, twenty percent were canopy malfunctions where the main began to deploy and an equipment malfunction began a series of events that led to fatality (How Safe…). The worst thing a fearful skydiver wants to happen is leaping out of a plane and the chute does not open. With this thought, skydiving is the last thing a person wants to try. There are definite risks when

London Ambulance Service Software Failure

1761 words - 8 pages London Ambulance Service Software Failure The London Ambulance Service (LAS) responds between 2000 and 2500 calls per day with a fleet of 750 vehicles, in less than three minutes. Their system was originally manually operated where details of an incident call taken by a control assistant is used to ascertain the location of an incident scene through the use of a map book. This information is then passed to a dispatch team who direct the

Foreign Language

2087 words - 9 pages continents of culture with no language skills to act as a bridge. If the future has the same makeup, then the U.S. has a fate of failure. However, foreign language education can act as a catalyst to transform the United States and make it more prosperous than ever before. By introducing crucial foreign languages earlier with better teachers and stronger support systems, the U.S. can completely change its future. Works Cited Baron, Danielle D

The Sucessful Student

1208 words - 5 pages the morning, and he may use that time to read the newspaper or take out the garbage. He also should put gasoline in his vehicle after he runs his final errand for the day; this simple task will prevent him from having to wait for an available pump at the gas station in the morning when other people have decided to wait until the last minute to buy gas for their vehicles in their rush to work or school. Next, one should purchase an alarm clock

Related Papers

Contract Law Essay

2089 words - 9 pages parties there must be offer and acceptance in agreement, Intention to create Legal relations, certainty of terms and formalities.”(Rush and Ottley 2006, P37-38). . According to Rush and Ottley “A contract is an agreement between two or more individuals or businesses that is legally binding” (Rush and Ottley 2006,p-34). Most contracts are in written but some can be just conversation between the parties as long as legally binding agreement are

Seattle Restaurant Legal Analysis

613 words - 3 pages gasoline in the bathroom and lights it on fire. Andy, Barb, Charlie and the lease all get out alive, but Barb is trampled in the rush to get out and suffers a broken leg. Unfortunately, the entire restaurant is destroyed. Please address the following questions in IRAC format: (Hint: There are contract and tort issues in the case, and more than one theory of recovery in some questions.) Do not address any criminal violations. Issue: Does Andy

Tyler Essay

1067 words - 5 pages 1950's remained far in the future.Willy Loman represents a unique, yet honest American figure: the traveling salesman. Every week, he takes a journey to stake his bid for success. It would be difficult to miss the survival of the American frontier mentality in the figure of the traveling salesman. The rush for gold and land in the nineteenth-century American West heavily influenced the idea of the American dream. It is no coincidence that in the

Hey Hey Hey Essay

1036 words - 5 pages around the room to make sure we were on task in doing the work, she would ask questions from the work unexpectedly, hoping she wouldn't call on me. “Marvell, What forms clastic sedimentary rocks and how are they named?” I looked around the classroom occupied with twenty-nine other students and felt a rush of a chills run down my spine as all of their eyes pierced through my skin. I knew I didn't know the answer and everyone else did too. “Umm, is it