My Ramblings

If you are reading this you must be pretty bored…

Foundations of Mission Control

Last month I had the opportunity to attend the Surge 2013 conference where Gene Kranz delivered the keynote speech.  Listening to his speech was very humbling as it makes one realize that the types of operational concerns and issues that those in web operations deal with on a day-to-day basis are nothing compared to what he and his team in mission control had to endure.  It is not to say that our jobs aren't important and that the consequences of our failures are not felt throughout the business but rather the stakes are just quite a bit different.

What I enjoyed most about the keynote was his focus on what he refers to as the "Foundations of Mission Control."  What is so great about these principles is that they don't just apply to those that work in mission control.  These are core principles that we should all try to embrace throughout the operations community and in our personal lives.  These qualities are essential to building great teams and core to what we should look for when hiring and developing staff.

In Gene's words:

  • To instill within ourselves these qualities essential for processional excellence:
    • Discipline - Being able to follow as well as lead, knowing we must master ourselves before we can master our work.
    • Competence - There being no substitute for total preparations and complete dedication for space will not tolerate the careless or indifferent.
    • Confidence - Believing in ourselves as well as others, knowing we must master fear and hesitation before we succeed.
    • Responsibility - Realizing that it cannot be shifted to others, for it belongs to each of us; we must answer for what we do, or fail to do.
    • Toughness - Taking a stand when we must; to try again, and again, even if it means following a more difficult path.
    • Teamwork - Respecting and utilizing and ability of others, realizing that we work toward a common goal, for success depends on the efforts of all.

  • To always be aware that suddenly and unexpectedly we may find ourselves in a role where our performance has ultimate consequences.
  • To recognize that the greatest errors is not to have tried and failed, but that in trying, we did not give it our best effort.

We should work hard to build teams and a culture that embraces these principles.  Perhaps we won't be able to get 100% coverage but we will all become better engineers just by trying.