Monday, January 29, 2007

Words of engagement

Literally hundreds of people have clicked through from the New Scientist's space blog to my piece on the Apollo 1 fire which is very gratifying. But of course, the main thrust of this blog is meant to be about organisational communication, so I've been looking for a link that brings the space programme and organisational/employee/internal communication together. And of course, there is a great example.

When President Kennedy stated to Congress in 1961 that America's intention was to send a man to the moon and return him safely before the end of the decade, he gave the clearest message possible to everyone involved in the space programme. From Mercury, through Gemini to Apollo, the US now had a clear route to the moon.

Over 400,000 people working in every aspect of the programme were engaged in achieving a tangible goal with a defined deadline. It was going to be hard; there would be immense problems along the way, and in the wake of the Apollo 1 fire, it looked as though the programme would fail.

But it didn't. People pulled together with a passion, dedication and tenacity not really seen in any single human endeavour since. The clear message was turned into outstanding success. The message was translated into activity for almost half a million people. Their collective effort put Armstrong, aldrin and the rest on the moon.

However, the Apollo 11 moon landing became an end-point not merely a milestone in the progress of the exploration of space. 38 years on, we've advanced little from that end point since no subsequent president has taken up and built on Kennedy's objective.

How often does that happen in our own business lives? How often do we rally to the call, only to see momentum lost as time goes by. We need the big goals - something tangible to reach. But once we get there, we need another. As soon as the goalposts stop moving, we begin to move back.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.