The Uplifting Power of Human Interaction

The Uplifting Power of Human Interaction

Getting a Man on the Moon

It required 400,000 people to collaborate on NASA’s Apollo 11 mission before Neil Armstrong could make his statement about One small step for man – one giant leap for mankind. Engineers, scientists and technicians worked with systems and subsystems in an effort to accomplish something never done before, sending a man to the moon. It required the collective capacities, knowledge and experience of a large number of people, and perfect coordination among this vast network. NASA’s civil service rolls grew three and a half times between 1960 and 1966, to reach 36,000 people. NASA also decided to rely on outside researchers and technicians. The number of these contract employees increased tenfold between 1960 and 1965, to reach over 370,000 people. These included people from private industries, research institutions, civil service, universities and the military forces. Among these were individualists who had to get accustomed to regimentation. Scientists had to mind the budget and not get carried away by their passion for research. Engineers had to deal with bureaucracy. NASA had the formidable task of melding all the disparate individual and institutional cultures and approaches into a unified organization moving towards a shared goal. The NASA leadership generally viewed the pluralism as a positive force and was able to work out a balance. Not just the work, even communication between the various stakeholders needed perfect coordination. It was the collective technical capability along with the management of complex structures and systems that helped humans reach the moon. NASA Administrator from 1961 to 1968, James E. Webb believed that Apollo 11 was more a management exercise than anything else. Five hundred contractors were working on the small and large aspects of Apollo 11. Five different companies built six individual spacecrafts for the mission, consisting of around five and a half million parts.

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About the Author

Garry JacobsGarry Jacobs is President and CEO of the World Academy of Art & Science (USA), an international think-tank founded in 1960 by eminent scientists and intellectuals working on strategies to accelerate sustainable and equitable global development. For over forty years, Jacobs has been engaged in research in social development, employment, education, psychology, human-centred Economics, organizational theory and management strategies. He is also a management consultant and partner since 1987 in Mira International, a consulting firm providing management guidance to firms in a wide range of industries in the USA, Europe and India. The integrating theme in Jacobs’ work is consciously applying the process of growth and development as it expresses at the level of the individual, organization, nation and the global community. He is author of hundreds of articles on economics, business and global affairs and co-author of two business books on the process of corporate growth, a book on Indian development and a novel on spirituality and business. He is also the Chairman of the Board of World University Consortium (USA); Vice-President of Mother’s Service Society, an educational and social science research institute in India; Distinguished Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at the Person-Centered Approach Institute, Italy and an international member of the Club of Rome

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