- June 9, 2020
Organizational Culture and Leadership
OrganizationalCulture and Leadership
OrganizationalCulture and Leadership
TheUnited States of America has been faced with several high-profiledisasters in the past. The preparation and position taken by theleadership have always brought different arguments and discussions.This has always been on the preparedness of the responsibleorganizations, how the effects of the disasters could have beenreduced and how the accidents could have been avoided altogether. Themen and women in leadership have often been tasked with theresponsibility to make such cultures as principles in guiding anorganization. This paper identifies the right organization cultureand the poor decision making that was experienced in two differentdisasters. This is the space Challenger disaster of January 28th,1986 and the Hurricane Katrina of August 29th, 2005. The paper willalso show the alternative ways the different responsible bodies wouldhave undertaken in prevention and management of the two disasters.
Thespace Challenger had gone exactly 25 successful flights before theeventful last flight. This flight was scheduled for 22nd January1986. Several factors made it delay. Some were related to safetywhile others were due to technical concerns. Later it was determinedthat the flight would be launched on 28th January 1986. Severaltechnical reasons were released on the cause of the disaster. Themost common reason being the failure of the O-rings (Vaughan, 1996).These O-rings are positioned just below the fuel tanks. A team ofengineers had met before the launch and cautioned NASA that theO-rings would not perform under the freezing weather conditions. Thiscaution was neglected and went on to be the cause of the disaster.There was an ethical problem in the decision making that led to theultimate explosion of the space challenge. There were reasons as towhy the NASA board chose not to follow the instructions from the teamof Engineers. Organization culture involves the values and principlesa company works. These guidelines are necessary to regulate themanagement, the employees and the partners of an organization on theways things are handled and procedures followed [ CITATION Cha16 l 1033 ].
Analysisof the leadership culture at NASA and the Engineering contractingfirm shows that they put their interests first before the safetyconcerns [CITATION Bro88 l 1033 ].Theorganization culture of NASA did not allow the junior management andthe crew to reject the decisions of their superiors. Thisshowed that the culture of the organization did not have propercommunication procedures [CITATION Arn88 l 1033 ].Thisis evident by their neglect of professional advice and followingtheir decisions. It shows a poor leadership strategy because thedirection as the final decision making body would have consideredprofessional advice rather than putting their business interestsfirst. Had they listened to the engineers` advice not to launch thechallenge until the weather conditions improved, the disaster wouldnot have happened.
Onthe other hand, Katrina hurricane hit New Orleans on the 29th ofAugust 2005. The hurricane had devastating effects and is estimatedto have destroyed property worth about $100 Billion. The federalgovernment, the city of New Orleans and the state had shown unethicalleadership and neglect of responsibilities in the preparation of theKatrina Hurricane disaster [ CITATION Joh05 l 1033 ].
Thispaper will demonstrate the different organizational cultures of thesebodies. It will also show the role the leadership played in relationto the disasters. In the space challenge disaster, it is clear thatthe responsible bodies were NASA and the Morton Thiokol engineeringcompany. The two companies had their decision-making at fault andtheir cultures responsible for the Challenge explosion. Since theengineers had given a proposal that did not go well with the superiormanagement, the administration took a ‘managerial decision’ toallow the launch of the space challenge [ CITATION Cry13 l 1033 ].This ‘management decision’ is seen to be the cause of thetragedy. Different cultures in various organizations should considerother interests in their resolutionmaking other than profits and shares to the investors. Poor decisionsgive managerial disasters. In addition to that, improper policymakingshows poor culture in an organization. Some organizational culturesoffer no clear roles in an organization. Therefore, this gives noclear structure to differentiate between the responsibility of anindividual and the organization as a whole [CITATION Dav l 1033 ].
Thispoor organizational culture is similar to that of the federalgovernment before the Katrina hurricane disaster. The government hadspent so much on the wrong investments despite their knowledge thatthe city of New Orleans was lying six feet below sea level. Therewere other deep-lying places within the city that could be as deep as11 feet below the sea level. The federal government, the city of NewOrleans and the state all knew of the prevailing danger since thecondition of the drainage system was poor. On the contrary, theresponsible institutions neglected the dangers ahead of them. Thedesign of the drainage system of New Orleans was poor. Their initialplanning of the city of Orleans showed that it needed water sleevesand flood walls to protect the city from damage in case of a flood.Previous planning decisions to manage river Mississippi was also notin conjunction with the ecosystem. In summary, the FederalGovernment, the city of New Orleans and the state had put on poorinfrastructure to prevent floods and disasters. Surprisingly, thesedecisions were made in full capacity and awareness of the impendingdangers. Another wrong decision that was taken by the federalgovernment to reduce the budget allocations to the army corpsengineers. They had proposed $3.9 million budget allocation for floodpreparation and protection yet the Bush administration only offered$3.0 million dollars. The newly elected governor also did little toprevent the disaster [ CITATION Dav l 1033 ].
NASAon its own had a little experience before the launch of theChallenger. Even though they had 14 successful launches of the spaceChallenger, they had little experience concerning this expedition.The leadership made rushed decisions to achieve their target of 15space ship launches by 1986. They neglected all the necessary safetyprecautions on their quest. In addition to that, a research showedthat NASA had given the contracted engineering firm little time toperform tests, redo the tests and certify safety precautions. Thisshows poor management since the expedition’s most important themewould have been safety first and not business as usual. The cultureat NASA showed that they had wrong priorities as they focused on thereduction of costs rather than safety. This was an unethical decisionbearing in mind that they had all the technical precautions given tothem [CITATION NAS05 l 1033 ].
Theboard of NASA should have included at least one or two technicaladvisors rather than none. This is similar to the Katrina disasterwhere the federal government had been advised severally by the Corpsengineers that New Orleans faced imminent floods and yet took noprecaution. The government and the state even spent much of theircapital on the wrong projects instead. The federal governmentconstructed a 76-mile canal that would later ease the flow of waterin the flooding. The government had poor flood preparedness to as itchanneled their troops in the direction they hoped the storm wascoming later to move the troops to the city of Orleans [ CITATION Dia96 l 1033 ].
Comparisonbetween the two incidents shows that in both occasions the leadershipcontributed to the disasters by their deeds. This includes neglectlack of preparedness and positive response to prevent more harm.However, there are differences in their cultures and decision making.Managerial decisions and culture of organizations depend on theanalysis and decisions of few appointed decision makers. This systemshould be eradicated, especially if safety is at stake. Regarding thearrangement, all these institutions lacked proper preparation toimminent dangers ahead [ CITATION Cha16 l 1033 ].
However,the difference is that NASA had a spaceship that did not have an exitstrategy for the crew. This is because they considered it safe and anormal routine since they had overseen several other expeditions. Theidea is that NASA should have treated this expedition as a differentone and not considered it a normal routine. The federal government,the city of New Orleans and the state did not put up quick disastermanagement strategies. The governor wasted too much time instead ofcalling upon the troops to prevent more danger in the HurricaneKatrina tragedy. The governor showed a lack of ethics and powercontrol in the administration [ CITATION Cha16 l 1033 ].
Thesimilarities between the two disasters are that all the leaders tookthe imminent threats as normal. They all neglected the impendingdisasters as they focused on other goals. NASA focused on launchingthe Challenger and showing the federal government that they hadconquered their challenge. Perhaps, there would have been made toreceive better budgetary allocations. The Katrina disaster on theother hand also had the three authorities neglecting their duty toprotect their citizens. They all chose to focus on other projectsinstead of preparing for the disaster [ CITATION Cha16 l 1033 ].
Mypersonal view of leadership is that the culture in leadership shouldput all factors in mind before making decisions. This should even bemore stringent if the safety of the involved members depends on mydecisions. The decision making process should be a complicatedprocess following all the necessary steps and put all matters intoconsideration [ CITATION Joh05 l 1033 ].Additionally, all the precautions should be looked into and takencare of before continuation of a task. If the cautions cannot behandled by a single decision then together with the board will chooseto have a parallel management system to control the imminent danger.This control measures should involve emergency measures to preventmore harm and quick resolution to control or stop the disastertotally. As this isdone, the safety of the concerned persons should not be put injeopardy [ CITATION Jam15 l 1033 ].
Inconclusion, there should never be a scenario where monetary culturebeats life and safety of the people involved. Even though politicaldecisions have sometimes been taken without the consideration oflife, neglecting security is never a good idea. In addition to that,my team of management will be advised to stop basing their decisionson the past success stories. Implementation structure of strategiesshould also take a significant role in my leadership. Successfulmanagers do not take much time in the policy formulation only ratherthey take much time in the implementation of their plans to achievetargeted goals.
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