Thursday, October 13, 2005

My thoughts.

The NASA website showed a history of the Challenger accident. One thing that stuck out in my mind was the chronological timeline link involving the accident. Unfortunately, I barely understood what it was saying. They were using jargon and terminology that I was unfamiliar with.http:// This could cause external stakeholders, including, me, a student, to feel devalued and out of the loop because it wasn’t portrayed to us in a way we could relate. Also, just in general, they did not go into as much depth with the Challenger accident, compared to the Columbia. Another facet of the website concerned with the Challenger was that you were given the opportunity to actually view the accident, which is good because it avoids uncertainty among viewers. They know exactly what happened because they viewed it themselves.
The Columbia accident was more covered within the NASA website. There was an entire page simply dedicated to the Columbia called “Remembering Columbia STS-107. It had links labeled, “Introduction,” “Biographies,” Timelines,” Photo Gallery,” “Documents,” “Columbia Accident Investigation Board,” “Reflections,” and others as well. Although all aspects of this specific page were important, certain links provided more insight and information than others.http:// Unlike the Challenger, their communication towards external stakeholders was a lot more clear and concise. The CAIB link gave recommendations for further space shuttles, recognizing what went wrong in Columbia. Lastly, the “Reflections” link gave people a chance to just talk about the accident, a quality of a good communication climate.
Overall, NASA presents itself as having a good overall communication climate. However, it could have described what happened in the Challenger accidents a little more thoroughly so everything was out in the open. I think their mission statement was as follows: “The more we learn about the universe, the more we learn about ourselves. From satellites monitoring our own planet’s resources to orbiting observatories scanning deep space, every NASA mission embodies the spirit of discovery.” I think this shows a lot about the organization’s culture. It is a learning culture, and it’s not afraid to make mistakes because mistakes are a part of the learning process. The culture looks motivated and strong.