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  • On the morning of January 28th 1986 the space shuttle challenger took off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, just 73 seconds after launch.

  • It exploded, killing everyone aboard.

  • I remember that day, as I'm sure many of you do, looking up at that smoke plume in the sky, and I was thinking, What went wrong?

  • What happened?

  • I imagine everyone's thinking that right.

  • But actually there were 34 people who knew as soon as they saw that disaster exactly what had gone wrong and why.

  • The space shuttle challenger was interesting for a number of reasons, most prominently, it had on board.

  • In addition to the six astronauts, Christa McAuliffe, a teacher who was bringing education to space, and she brought unbelievable media attention to this launch.

  • The launch had also been postponed over the course of the prior week, and the night of the launch was President Reagan's State of the Union address, where he was hoping to talk about the challenges Flight.

  • One other thing was unusual about the challenges Flight.

  • It was cold as heck in Florida that morning.

  • These are pictures taken of the launch pad the morning of the challenger flight.

  • You see foot long icicles.

  • Now, this actually sort of started the trigger events that like to share with you about this.

  • So the day before the launch, at 2 30 in the afternoon on engineering company called Morton Thiokol reached out to NASA and said, Basically, we don't think you should launch tomorrow.

  • It's too cold and the O rings might fail catastrophically.

  • Now the rings are these little rubber gaskets that connects sections of the rocket fuselage and make sure that fuel stays inside.

  • They had been built, as had the fuse Lodge by Morton Thiokol.

  • Well, this communication started a number of phone calls back and forth, which led to a conference call that evening that lasted for three hours.

  • With one topic Would the O rings holed up in the cold temperature tomorrow or not, The engineers that Thiokol had very strong evidence that they might not.

  • They knew that rubber would behave differently in cold temperature, become stiffer, doesn't seal as well.

  • And they also had seen in prior cold weather launches of prior shuttles blow by, which meant that small amounts of fuel had escaped by the rings causing black carbon marks on the outside of the rocket.

  • This is the equivalent of having, you know, finding burned or singed newspapers next to your stove.

  • You know, you almost had a fire.

  • You almost had a disaster on your hands.

  • NASA wasn't convinced.

  • One NASA manager said, My God, Thiokol, When do you want me to launch April at 15 minutes before midnight?

  • The night before the launch, under pressure from NASA, Morton Thiokol faxed over a document to NASA that said, Basically, we think the O rings will be okay.

  • You can go ahead and launch tomorrow.

  • And they launched and the O rings failed and the rocket fuel escaped and the challenger exploded, killing everyone aboard.

  • Now this isn't a talk about O rings or space engineering.

  • This is a talk about conversation.

  • And when I tell this challenges story, many people have heard about the O rings, and very few people are aware of this conference call, and it's my contention that we've sort of mischaracterized the Challenger Disaster is a mechanical failure.

  • Sure, there was a mechanical flaw, but this was a failure of human communication.

  • A few years ago, I had the opportunity to spend some time at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, writing and researching a book on large public sector andr takings.

  • And one of the most remarkable in surprising findings we had was how often it was a conversation that took place before execution that made the difference between success and failure.

  • Now I'm a big fan of President John F.

  • Kennedy.

  • I was born while Kennedy was president.

  • Like Kennedy, I'm of Irish Catholic background, and it happens that we saying share the same hometown off Brookline, Massachusetts.

  • So I'd like to share with you a couple of stories from the Kennedy administration that illustrate how important conversations are.

  • The 1st 1 started.

  • As soon as Kennedy came into office, he was informed by his military advisors that there was a planned invasion of Cuba underway.

  • Basically, the military and the CIA had been training about 1400 Cuban expatriates secretly in Central America with the intention of landing them on a beach in Cuba called the Bay of Pigs to try to overthrow Fidel Castro.

  • Thes 1400 amateur soldiers were folks who had fled when the Castro regime had taken power not long before now, Kennedy met with his military advisors, all of whom assured him of the soundness of this plan.

  • There was one man on his staff who was deeply opposed to this plan, however, and that was this guy.

  • His name is Arthur Schlessinger.

  • Ah, Harvard professor.

  • And he knew that Fidel Castro had something like 200,000 soldiers.

  • He knew that Fidel Castro control the communication on the island of Cuba.

  • And he knew these soldiers were ill trained and ill equipped.

  • But he never said anything.

  • In his memoirs, written years later, he said, I bitterly reproached myself for having remained silent during those critical conversations in the Cabinet room.

  • Kennedy went ahead and approved the launch, and it was a disaster.

  • 1400 people were either killed or taken prisoner, and it was a total, uh, PR disaster for the United States of America.

  • Fidel Castro looked like a hero in his home island.

  • There was only one silver lining from this fiasco, and that was this.

  • President Kennedy changed the way he held conversations on his staff.

  • Two years later, this would prove remarkably important.

  • When the Cuban missile crisis began, the Soviet Union began building nuclear missiles on the island of Cuba that had the ability to destroy the Eastern seaboard of the United States.

  • Once again, the military advised swift military response.

  • But Kennedy wanted conversation.

  • He separated is staffers into two groups, one that wanted military intervention, another that was favoring negotiation and blockade.

  • Because there were two groups they were each able to challenge the facts and reasoning of the other.

  • He also made sure that senior members of various groups would absent themselves from the conversations a time to ensure open and complete dialogue.

  • Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed and a negotiated settlement was reached.

  • Now I want you to think on this.

  • It is truly no exaggeration to say that World War Three was averted because President Kennedy had learned how to create better conversation among his staff.

  • Now, you may be saying yourself while I'm in business, I'm not gonna launch a nuclear war, not gonna launch a space shuttle, but we make big decisions in business all the time, and we bring people together to do it.

  • It's my contention that we don't take conversations very seriously in business, but we should, because the quality of our conversations influences the quality of our decisions and the quality of our decisions dictates the quality of our outcomes.

  • There are reasons that human beings aren't very good at sharing everything they know in a group setting, and I call these the three myths that keep people silent at various times.

  • The 1st 1 is the belief, the incorrect belief that dissent equals disloyalty, that if you say something against a plan, you are undermining the authority of the leader.

  • Nobody wants to do that.

  • The next is similar.

  • It's the idea that criticism of an idea is tantamount off criticism of the individual who offered the idea.

  • Now I agree that you shouldn't be criticizing a colleague in public what you've got to be able to criticize an idea no matter whose it ISS.

  • The third is to disagree with a consensus of the group is to be not a team player.

  • This involves an individual's loyalty to the group, and it it undermines our ability to speak freely and say what we truly think.

  • So I want to share with you a couple of techniques that you can bring in to change the context of a conversation because I'll tell you simply saying I really want to know what you think isn't enough.

  • That doesn't overcome the barriers that people have.

  • You need to change the context of the conversation.

  • Ah, one way to do it is with what I'll call independent deliberation.

  • You would think the best way to hear from a group would be to bring the group together and have a conversation.

  • Counterintuitively, That's not always so.

  • I was running, um, state agency at one point in time, and we would occasionally come across incidences off employee misconduct that we needed to figure out what appropriate discipline would be.

  • And I would bring my managed together, and we would talk about what would be an appropriate consequence for this particular misdeed.

  • It just always seemed to be the case that the group decided whatever I thought would be a good, good response, so I had to change the equation.

  • I then asked everybody in the future to come in with the information, having written out their recommendation for what would be appropriate consequence and why.

  • And when I did that, one of two things happened.

  • Either there was a natural consensus that emerged, and it made me confident that we were gonna be making the right decision, or people had different ideas, very different.

  • And now we could have a conversation about why you might think a three day suspension is correct.

  • And you might think the termination is the right answer in this case.

  • That's when you have rich conversations, and that's when you're able to make a decision fully informed based on the facts.

  • The second technique is what's called a Devil's Advocate or red team.

  • And here the leader actually assigns a group to poke holes in an idea or plan, and that becomes their job.

  • That gives them the psychological permission to do the sorts of things that they're not allowed to dio in a normal group setting around a conference table.

  • Ah, this is done somewhat extensively in the military, where they call it a red team, and they will be there to sort of poke holes in the plan of attack that's being offered by another group.

  • Um, the other place you can see it is on the cable TV show the newsroom.

  • When reporters are going to be broadcasting a key investigative story, the other reporters in the newsroom will hear it first and poke holes in the sources of the logic One.

  • Therefore, either kill or strengthen this story before it gets aired, because it is much better to test the strength of an idea or a story before you launch it to the public.

  • Now I've been talking a little bit here about ways in which conversations can be very important before large undertakings in order to draw out the pitfalls or the risks associated with these large undertakings.

  • But there's another very important role that conversation plays as well.

  • And that's when the conversation is used to inspire and to engage and to bring people in to a great, uh, an ambitious endeavor.

  • And again, I'm gonna go with a story from John F.

  • Kennedy.

  • Less than one month after the Bay of Pigs fiasco, the Kennedy administration is at a low ebb.

  • He's only been in office five or six months, and he's already been humiliated on the beaches of Cuba, and he needs to come up with something to inspire the American people.

  • So he goes before Congress, and he starts a conversation that leads to perhaps the greatest achievement in human history.

  • And it goes something like this.

  • I believe that this nation should commit itself to the goal before the decade is out off putting a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth?

  • No.

  • While the space project at this time will be more impressive to mankind, we do not choose to go to the moon and do the other things because they are easy, but because they are hard.

  • So by communicating in an aspire in an inspiring fashion and engaging in a dialogue with Congress and the American people, Kennedy convinced us to go on that journey.

  • And before the decade was out, mankind was on the moon.

  • So as you go forth, I encourage you to go forth boldly to dare great things and to remember that great achievements on Lee come after great conversations.

  • Thank you very much.

On the morning of January 28th 1986 the space shuttle challenger took off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, just 73 seconds after launch.

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ジョン・オリアリー:良い会話の重要性とその持ち方 (John O'Leary: The importance of good conversation – and how to have it)

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    林宜悉 に公開 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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