31 July 2018
… and Apollo 13. When the crew of the space module Apollo 13 suggested that things weren’t quite going to plan and said: “Houston, we’ve had a problem”, the outcome would have been very different if it hadn’t been for Don Arabian. The head of engineering at NASA and an experienced and very capable man, Don refused to accept the inevitable and, together with this team, found a way to fix the problem before the oxygen ran out, and brought the whole crew home.
Finding a solution to a seemingly impossible task demands determination, creative thinking and a team who won’t give up. The Don Arabian spirit was in full flow at the camp by the Tham Luang cave complex in Thailand, as the rescue of The Wild Boars football team and their coach was developed. A cool head, the ability to think outside of the box and the best expert knowledge available all came together to devise a rescue that was as jaw-droppingly audacious as it was brilliant.
But it wasn’t just the boldness of the plan that was striking, it was the fact that a group of experienced people from across the globe, all pulled together to work out how to save 12 young people who were literally stuck in a hole on borrowed time. For most of us the decisions we make at work or at home will, thankfully, not be life or death ones, but the approach the team in Thailand adopted this month, and at the team at the Kennedy Centre, Florida in 1970, hasn’t changed. The ability to think under pressure is a great asset, but the ability to think differently is a talent that can and should be nurtured in all of us. And, with the obvious absence of ego and showboating (sorry Elon), the team is stronger, and the results can be spectacular.