[Robelle] [SmugBook] [Index] [Prev] [Next]

Paperwork and the Nobel Prize Winner

The late Dr.Richard Feynman of Cal Tech did a famous study of the Challenger shuttle disaster. He ranged widely throughout NASA and its contractors, talking to anyone who could shed light on the quality problems. A group of production workers had found a simple way to improve the calibration of the rocket engines, but it was never implemented.

The foreman said he wrote a memo with this suggestion to his superiors two years ago, but nothing had happened yet. When he asked why, he was told the suggestion was too expensive. "Too expensive to paint four little lines?" I said in disbelief. They all laughed, "It's not the paint; it's the paperwork. They would have to revise all the manuals.

Quoted from "Personal Observations on the Reliability of the Shuttle" in What Do You Care What Other People Think? by Richard P. Feynman, (W. W. Norton, 1988). This book is enthusiastically recommended, as is his earlier collection of stories, Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!.

[Robelle] [SmugBook] [Index] [Quality] [Prev] [Next]