India’s ambitious second lunar mission Chandrayaan 2 evoked tears after the lander ‘Vikram’ lost communication with the ground stations, it’s important to remember what India’s missile man Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam said about failures.
Years ago, India’s SLV-3 mission satellite crashed when Dr. Kalam was the director.
Speaking at an event in 2013, the former President of India gave details on how he handled the situation during the 1979 incident.
About SLV-3 Failure
“The year was 1979. I was the project director. My mission was to put the satellite in the orbit. Thousands of people worked for nearly 10 years. I have reached Sriharikota and it is in the launch pad. The countdown was going on T minus 4 minutes, T minus 3 minutes, T minus 2 minutes, T minus 1 minute, T minus 40 seconds. And the computer put it on hold, don’t launch it. I am the mission director, I have to make a decision,” Dr. Abdul Kalam said.
How To Manage Failure
He then added, “First time I faced failure… And how to manage failure? Success I can manage, but how to manage failure?”
ISRO chief Satish Dhawan held a press conference. Kalam then went on to quote Dhawan as saying “‘Dear friends, we have failed today. I want to support my technologists, my scientists, my staff, so that next year they succeed'”.
“He took the whole blame on himself despite criticisms. He took all the blame and assured them that next year we would succeed because his team was a very good one,” Kalam said.
A Successful Mission
Next year on July 18, 1980, the same team led by Dr. Kalam Rohini RS-1 was successfully launched into the orbit and Dhawan asked Dr. Kalam to hold a press conference.
“I learned a very important lesson that day. When failure occurred, the leader of the organization owned that failure. When success came, he gave it to his team. The best management lesson I have learned did not come to me from reading a book; it came from that experience,” Kalam said.
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