The Challenge to Succeed
Hi, my name is Joe Cahill. I’m the COO of the Project Management Institute, PMI. PMI is launching many new programs in 2020. Key among them is the Knowledge Initiative, which is a community of professionals and thought leaders that are focused on the art of getting things done. This global community will share knowledge, develop new thinking and harness the collective intelligence of the entire PMI global community as it relates to the future of work. Today’s podcast is exclusively and proudly sponsored by the PMI Knowledge Initiative.
There are very few enterprises that truly surpass the wonders of good fiction while becoming firmly grounded in the psyche of nations and real history. NASA can claim that status and only a handful of individuals can be recognized for the exceptional contribution they have made to that organization’s innovative reach for success.
Michael Ciannilli is one of those people. He is NASA’s Program Manager for the Apollo, Challenger, Columbia Lessons Learned Program and has worked for the administration for over 24 years. During this time he has seen great success and great tragedy, including the destruction in-flight of the Space Shuttle Challenger. Today, I have the great pleasure of talking to Michael about he and his team’s work to enhance the efficacy of complex programs and deliver lessons learned through inspirational projects.
And Joe, I want to say first, thank you to yourself and the entire PMI team. I have known PMI for quite some time, I have been a huge fan, and I am completely humbled and honored for the opportunity to share some thoughts with you and your audience today so thank you so much for the invitation.
Thank you, Michael. So we are hearing a lot about this new and innovative NASA program called the Apollo, Challenger, Columbia Lessons Learned Program. Could you please tell us what was the inspiration of this endeavor along with the vision and mission of the program?
Oh, we’re really excited, NASA is really excited about our new Apollo, Challenger, Columbia Lessons Learned Program. And this kind of became an organic development, if you will. For many years after the accident, I had the honor to lead what we call the Columbia Research and Preservation Office. And it is a function that NASA has that actually loans pieces of Columbia out to educational institutions for the purpose of study. So I had that purpose and also overseeing NASA’s good safekeeping of Columbia hardware.
So I’ve had that experience. And taking folks through that room through the years, I witnessed literally thousands of people come through the room and the reactions they had. A number of years after we retired the Space Shuttle Program, our senior leadership came to myself and I was very humbled to be asked to lead a project called Forever Remembered and that was to be our nation’s memorial to the crews of Space Shuttle Challenger and Space Shuttle Columbia. So that was about a three-year project. So I spent a lot of time reflecting upon both of those tragedies.
And through both of those experiences, both taking thousands of folks over the years through the room to see the actual artifacts of Columbia plus also revisiting very intimately and personally the accidents of Challenger and Columbia, the idea came to me over time that stories of Columbia, the stories of Challenger, there is so much more potential we have where we could use those stories to really impact people. And over the years, one thing that was really consistent, Joe, in my perspective was that without fail every single person that came to either see the artifacts face-to-face or heard the stories were impacted in some very powerful way.
So the vision became, what happens if we took this unbelievable opportunity, shared this with as many folks as we could possibly share that with and what could be the potential to actually change hearts and minds of folks going forward in a host of industries. So that became really the genesis to share this on a bigger scale. And then taking that idea and vision, I took it to our senior NASA leadership and I’m so humbled and thankful that the folks in those positions also saw the vision and gave me full support to develop a new NASA program to do just this.
Great. To set the stage from a big picture point of view, what were the hopes for each space shuttle flight that drove the passions of the NASA team?
Well I miss those days, I have to say. The Space Shuttle Program was just absolutely an amazing program. It’s something that’s in my heart and forever will be and also in the hearts and minds of not only Americans but also around the world. The Space Shuttle Program in many ways was an international project with the inclusion of the Space Station Program and other flights and missions as well.
So when we look at the Space Shuttle Program, lots of things went through our hearts and minds I think over those 30 years of history. And I think when you look at it, to answer your question, there was really a strong sense that the mission was bigger than ourselves. We saw every space shuttle flight as a goal, as a mission, it was like our Super Bowl, if you will. A lot of heart and soul and hours and time went into each mission - getting the vehicles ready, getting the crews ready, doing everything we possibly could to be safe for a very safe and successful flight.
So there was that, which was a direct approach. But also bigger than that, I think bigger than ourselves for sure, was the sense that I had, and I believe I can speak for most of my colleagues, was that we were doing something bigger than ourselves. We were in ways trying to advance the cause of exploration and discovery, something that if you look back through history I would humbly suggest has been written into our human heart, if you will, or you can perhaps say it was part of our human DNA to explore, going back... you can go back centuries, go back to Columbus and even before. For thousands of years, humankind has always wanted to explore and discover.
So I think it’s something we felt a bigger sense of responsibility to help grab that torch in our time on the stage, if you will, and advance that to the next generation of folks. So I certainly think that’s something we felt.
And then also I believe we had a sense that we’re truly trying to improve life on earth. And when folks ask questions of—in this case—why do we pursue space exploration or travel into space, of course part of that component, as I mentioned, was the sense of discovery and exploration, but it goes truly beyond just learning what’s out there. Because those things we learn are actually reflected back on how we can improve life on earth.
And it’s actually NASA’s mission to do that. Every time we develop new technologies or learn new innovations, they often have tremendous impacts back on earth in improving life. And NASA has a whole presence of spin-off technology and we make that technology available around the world to other folks to learn. So really when you look at the investments that we put into space and space exploration, it is twofold. It’s looking outward for future exploration and discovery, what can we learn, how far can we go, but it is really also improving life back here for everyone else on Planet Earth.
So following the tragedy of the Space Shuttle Columbia, what were the first points you had to address and how was the team structured to address these points with the greatest efficacy?
That is a long story. I’d be happy to share some thoughts with you, Joe, on that. When Columbia was flying its STS 107 mission, we approached it much like every other mission. We had a start point, we had a launch, we had mission to perform and then we had an ending point, which was the landing. And of course then once you land, you turn the vehicle back around and get ready for its next flight. So that was our thinking for each shuttle mission of course as we went on from each one.
And on February first, 2003, the morning of that, our world changed and something else unexpectedly happened. And in this case, Columbia was just wrapping up its 16-day flight, it was a very successful flight, we had crew members of seven folks on board, and it was a micro-gravity research mission. So we had effectively seven folks in the orbiter, four folks who were working for a 12-hour shift and when they finished, they would go to sleep and then the three other crew members would go to work. So really a truly 24-hour day mission for 16 days. A lot of intense science and research being performed.
So while the crew in orbit is doing that, us on the ground were monitoring the flight plus also getting ready to get Columbia back home, get her dusted off, if you will, and get her ready for her next flight. And then the unthinkable happened.
In this case, in the morning, Columbia was on re-entry, we had fired the engines, the de-orbit engines, Columbia is now falling back in the atmosphere. She’s crossing the Pacific Ocean, crossing the western coast of California and crossing across the Continental United States, entering into the State of Texas. And 16 minutes before scheduled touch down in Florida, Columbia was lost.
And in that moment and in the moments that ensued after that, I can tell you there was a tremendous amount of things happening. Of course the ground teams are working very, very diligently to find Columbia, to look at the data, to understand what our situation is. But it was also a shock setting into the system of the unthinkable happening.
So once we processed through those moments of understanding that we lost Columbia and we lost our crew and going of course through the technical realization of that and also going through the human emotion realization of that, it became very clear upfront that our mission had now changed. Our mission had changed from bringing a vehicle home to a safe touchdown on the runway now to a mission… We had to understand what this new mission was. And of course in the very beginning moments sometimes when your paradigm shifts so dramatically and your reality shifts so dramatically you have to get a grasp on that as quick as you can.
So in the moments after the loss of Columbia, we start getting reports from other outside folks that there may be items of Columbia coming down to the ground. Of course we have never been through this before, for an accident like this with the Space Shuttle Program, so we didn’t know what to expect, in some ways. But we start getting reports of debris hitting the ground.
So our first, number one goal was to protect public safety. Of course, as we had this reality unfolding before us, the problem was not bounded, we didn’t know how much hardware was coming down to the ground, we didn’t know all of the locations it was coming down to, and our biggest concern is we have a lot of folks on the ground, the public of course is there.
So as those first moments and hours turned into days, that mission, to continue in that direction, was first of all protect the public. That was our job number one. As you could imagine, the space shuttle, or any launch vehicle in many ways, is very dangerous in some ways. We have certain commodities on board that could be very dangerous if you even just smell them or get a whiff of those for your lungs, for breathing. We had unexploded potentially pyrotechnics on board the vehicle. We also had potentially very sharp edges on board the vehicle. So there were a variety of potential hazards that the public could face if coming in contact with the hardware. So that was our first thing is how do we protect public safety.
Our second goal was we want to bring the crew home. So of course as the days unfold and we realize there’s a gift and an opportunity to recover our crew, our goal became very focused on bringing our crew home and making sure we are doing that the very, very best we can. So that was our job.
And then our third responsibility that came into focus was bringing Columbia home. So we realized we had, as more and more reports came in and more searchers found more items, we started to realize that our pounds went into tens of pounds to hundreds of pounds now into thousands of pounds of potential debris from Columbia on the ground.
So our mission expanded tremendously but with a goal of keeping the recovery teams safe, keeping the public safe, but also making sure that we bring all of Columbia home for two purposes really. The first purpose being we want to make sure that we have all of the artifacts back so that we can now study them to understand what happened for the accident but also because it’s the right thing to do. Columbia deserves to come back home, we have to bring her home as well as the crew.
So that became really our focus in the very initial part and in many ways continued throughout the recovery phase. And if I could just note quickly this was something that was not completely expected. We thought we were going to get our crew home, we were very excited about getting the crew and Columbia home, and our world changed very, very quickly.
So it was a tremendous lesson and tremendous lessons learned that came out of how do you change your tack and direction very, very quickly to something very unexpected? And then how do you rise to the occasion, if you will, to perform a very difficult, complex mission and do it very safely? So that was the goal we were faced with and the challenge we were faced with, to do all three of those.
So Mike, if I may, if you put yourself back in that time frame, what in your life before that prepared you for that just individually? Or is it something you can never be prepared for? I’m sure you have mixed feelings but man, what a situation to be in.
That’s a great question, Joe. Well I can maybe answer it two different... two different parts to it. In some ways I don’t think you could ever be quite prepare for something like that. I think when some of these things hit unexpectedly you can prepare in some ways as much as you can. But on a human, emotional level, I think they’re still going to hurt, they are still going to hit you. And I don’t think you could possibly grasp... Perhaps folks that were in the military or have been through other experiences like that on a big scale perhaps could relate in some ways.
So I think in some ways you just can’t 100 percent be prepared for something like this. What we did rely upon, and which is the second part, is we relied upon what we could do and the skills that we did have.
So we were all trained... and myself, before I did this job, one of my former jobs I used to do is I had the pleasure of running the Space Shuttle Countdown Simulation Team. So I used to be... they called us the Gremlins. So we would design these launch countdown dress rehearsals, mock countdowns, and then we’d stress the Launch Team. So we’d invent these scenarios, like a big video game if you will, and throw just literally dozens of failures at the Launch Team, stress them tremendously to prepare. So I had lived a history of that.
Also, training as an engineer and then later as a test director, my training over and over again was preparing for the unexpected. So as a person that’s always expecting to be ready for something to go wrong, to be ready for your contingency plans, your unexpected procedures, you were always just in some ways on the edge of your seat, waiting for something to go wrong, hoping it wouldn’t, and of course most times it didn’t, thankfully.
So I think a lot of that training that we went through, at least in my personal case, the training for years of expecting something to go wrong, looking for signs of something going wrong, the training on hardware systems, getting as much possible knowledge as you can of what you’re working on was tremendously helpful. I think getting to know the vehicle so intimately, the hardware, the systems, that became very helpful to me in particular when I was out in Texas flying in helicopters, searching for items. I had a lot of ability to identify and recognize what might be parts of Columbia and what weren’t.
So I think I, myself personally, and I think other folks might say the same, is relying upon what you did have, the knowledge experience, the ability to maybe handle crisis in pressure situations to some degree, using that as your backbone. And then I think really maybe what helped is I think in cases like this, a strong dose of humility and a strong dose of wanting to work with others and collaborate.
Because it became very quick to me and I think to others as well, that we needed more than just the NASA team to do this. We were facing a lot of other challenges during the recovery of the vehicle. So we had to reach out to folks in other expertise - Environmental Protection, Disaster Management, folks like that - that could lead their expertise. So I think the desire to collaborate, the willingness to collaborate and learn with the purpose of getting the mission done.
So it wasn’t NASA’s in charge or this other group is in charge but it was more of if we build an amazing team, if we worked together and learned from each other and partner in the truest sense, we can achieve something that was unexpected, unplanned, very, very large scale, and we could be successful together in that and have the humility to want to do all those together. So I think if you put all those together…
And one more thing if I could add on a personal level, I was just absolutely amazed of the folks I interfaced with. I can tell you from the helicopter recovery teams that I flew with to the ground search teams to our emergency management folks, our forest service folks, to our local, state, county, federal officials from all kinds of agencies that came together, I was just unbelievably humbled at their knowledge, their desire to help, their desire to teach me and other folks many different things that we didn’t know to help us become even better at bringing Columbia and the crew home and protecting the public, that was just amazing.
And on top of that, another component that was equally as amazing was the public. So as you can imagine, we keep things pretty close at NASA. We have the Kennedy Space Center or different areas where we keep the orbiters very close, they’re protected, it’s in-house if you will. And all the sudden, I find myself out in fields in the middle of Texas and interfacing with the public. It became very quick up front, understood, that the public was also grieving as we were grieving for the loss of the crew and the loss of the mission and they wanted to jump in and help as well.
So there was an amazing outpouring of love and support that we got. That’s something that... I don’t think it surprised me but the scale of it just absolutely humbled me, folks that would come up and just say, “what can I do to help?” that had no prior connection to NASA, but that day they were part of the NASA family and the NASA team.
So I think together, perhaps trying to be as ready for that moment as you can because you never know when that moment is coming. So training for it, preparing for it, building trust amongst your teams, being able to communicate so effectively so if you’re ever in that situation you have all those tools in your toolbox to be as successful as you can but also that ability to be reactionary real time and to chart un-navigated waters.
That is tremendous insight, particularly about teamwork, the humanity of the situation, very, very compelling. Let me ask you, I have a couple more questions for you. How does the Apollo, Challenger, Columbia Lessons Learned Program share lessons learned, essentially refocusing them in an effort to improve complex programs and projects around the world?
Well that’s the exciting part, Joe. And approaching it in similar ways we did that is in learning lessons learned and trying to share lessons learned one thing I’m learning tremendously is the power of diversity. Because we all see things differently and we all get impacted, I would suggest, in different ways.
So the first thing I wanted to do was not make it a one-size fits all type approach for this program because I wanted people to interface within different mediums, if you will. So, for example, we are working with some book authors that are doing books on lessons learned or telling the stories of the accidents. So in a literary sense, we are working in those endeavors.
We just actually finished taping our first TV show, so we are building multimedia content that’s going to be shown in a video format that talks about lessons learned and these experiences. In that vein we are also just about to complete our first documentary. So we’re looking at film documentaries to approach it from that perspective, so folks that might be more inclined to receive information through that genre, we’re looking at it that way.
We’re looking at ideas like podcasts, like we’re doing today, another exciting new tool that we have, sharing information through podcasts and talking about these things is certainly one thing.
Also, I do a lot of tours through the Columbia Research and Preservation Office. So we have a very special place that’s located at the Kennedy Space Center here in Florida and it is actually within the Vehicle Assembly Building where Columbia was assembled for flight. In there, there is a special room where all 84,000+ artifacts of Columbia reside. And I take specialized groups through there and we talk the lessons learned in detail. So the artifacts help me do a storytelling journey, if you will, through the room and through those artifacts we flush out and talk about the lessons through all parts of... pre-flight, during the flight and the lessons learned afterwards. So I use that mechanism for some ways to share this.
We started up a new initiative last year... Because I realized a lot of our folks can’t come see Columbia, to the Kennedy Space Center, so I thought what if Columbia came to them. So we have permission with our senior leadership to bring Columbia to various NASA centers around the United States. So I’m in the process now of bringing Columbia, a set of hardware, to each of the centers where we have week-long of events, discussions, panel sessions, speeches, varied events, some are on base, some are public faced. And we talk about all different aspects of lessons learned relating it to both within aerospace and even outside of aerospace.
So that’s another angle, if you will. And then on top of that, of course I’m trying to always share with all the audience. So we have folks that can come here, some folks I can share with at NASA centers, but then there’s a lot of other folks that can’t do either of those. So we started up a speaking program, a traveling program, if you will, where I go across our nation, perhaps it will be international soon, and I can actually take those messages and share those intimate stories, share those lessons first hand, first person account, with groups and organizations and companies around the country and the world and interface and interchange with questions and answers.
So it’s a long answer to your short question, if you will, but I’m really excited because there’s just so many different avenues and ways to do that. And really what underpins all of that in my humble opinion is the word collaboration. Because for me to have the goal of being most effective to share this vision and mission is to collaborate. So having unbelievable opportunities, I am very honored to start a collaboration with PMI, I’m very thankful for that. I have built collaborations with universities and also building collaborations with companies around the country and governmental agencies as well.
So together through these collaborations and building these teams now to share lessons learned, I think they’re going to be really effective. But again, approaching it from all different points of view so everybody is included in the picture somehow.
I completely agree about collaboration. It’s certainly at the cornerstone of what we’re trying to do with our Knowledge Initiative, trying to bring together a broad global network of people, including yourself, to help solve world problems and focus on how we can get things done, like the big part, the how. A lot of people are looking at the what and the why in many cases but the how is where all the dirty work is done and the details really produce the great results.
So if I can ask you... to close this out with one last question... if you look with your eyes firmly onto the future, can you share your thoughts on unique potential of the program, the Apollo, Challenger, Columbia Lessons Learned Program, to positively influence a very diverse array of organizations like you were talking about? What does it look like, how big can it be, and on what scale can we see this program having an impact?
Joe, that is really the exciting part. To me the world’s the limit. Its endless opportunities. And the key word you just mentioned a second ago is collaboration. Truly, I humbly believe it’s collaboration. When you take the efforts and the vision and mission of ACCLLP and then you partner with an organization like PMI, which is a world-class leader in building collaborations and building teams and educating folks in professional development and all the amazing things PMI does, and then you take cutting edge research that universities are doing in thought leadership and risk leadership and team dynamics and human dynamics. When you take all this information, all these different ways to put these pieces of the puzzle together, it’s really limitless, it truly is.
One thing that really has really amazed me and perhaps in some ways a bit unexpected is when I was designing this program, of course we had the near-term community in view. So we had the space launch community, so the folks that are the NASA teams and our commercial providers that are launching rockets and people into space was of course the community we’re focused on. And that became... real soon afterwards we start seeing tremendous interest among our contractor teams. So it expanded also in the scope and the reach of our message. Soon after that, all the commercial companies that are now partnering with the NASA and contractor teams to develop these industries and people, started getting involved. So all of a sudden, our mission started getting bigger and our audience started getting bigger.
Today, one thing I have to say that just truly amazes me and actually humbles me tremendously is that over 50 percent - well over 50 percent now - of the inquiries we have to collaborate, to partner, to work together on lessons learned are outside of aerospace altogether. And that absolutely amazes me. I am just so excited at the potential of that because we have folks in the medical industry that are interested in partnering, we have folks in the energy industry that are interested, we have folks in finance, we have folks in a host of disciplines. Of course the military is very interested as well, and the automotive industry; sporting organizations have contacted me.
So to answer your question, I don’t think there are any limits to it. I think if organizations can come together to collaborate, I think the reach and the applicability across every genre we could imagine could be impacted because when it comes down to it, I would humbly suggest there’s many key factors. We are all people. We all are born with very similar DNA. History teaches us that. So we still have those potential flaws, those potential shortcomings, those potential challenges of just being people and organizations made of groups of people.
So those dynamics don’t change. It doesn’t matter if you’re building rockets or race cars, that’s the same type of thing we have to face. When you’re leading projects and you’re leading programs and you have challenges within both, the hardware, some of the things might be different but I would humbly suggest that when you come down to the basics of it, man, we are so much more similar than different, which is exciting because that means we can work together and share to help the cause for everyone. So that is something I’d say.
And perhaps one other thing I’d mention as well if I could is with this new program NASA has with for the Apollo, Challenger, Columbia Lessons Learned Program, I have learned through experiences truly how unique this is. And I can explain it perhaps through a quick story and interaction I had recently.
I’ve taken over the years now probably tens of thousands of folks through the room and one of the visits I’ve gotten, and of course I get visits from corporate CEOs to mid-level folks to new hires, so you get a whole host of folks, a very diverse array of folks. Well, one of these tours was a CEO of a very large corporation, over 100,000 employees, so a large corporation. And this just happened to be in the entertainment field so it just shows you it wasn’t related to aerospace in this particular case.
And I had gone through the tour and given him a tour through the Columbia room, discussing lessons learned and doing my best to share with them the story. And at the end of it, the CEO whispered in my ear, he goes, “can I speak to you for a moment?” And I said, “well sure.” He says, well, “I can’t believe you said what you said.” And of course for a moment there you kind of pause for a moment, your brain is going through a, “oh geez, what did I say?” And, I hope I said the right things and you kind of go through... which all of us would probably do.
And I said, “is there something I can explain better or something I can do more effective for you?” And he says, “no, I didn’t mean that, what I meant was,” he says, “the transparency of what you are able to say and the intimacy of what you are able to share is very, very rare. Because in my particular world and probably most worlds that are similar to mine, there are certain things we can’t share for a host of reasons.” Be it economic reasons, competitor, business model... for a host of reasons because there is a real world out there, we understand.
He said, “but being in the NASA perspective, your charter is to help everyone and you can share these intimate stories.” And sometimes we are sharing things where we didn’t do things right, we could have done better, we are being very honest and up front about here’s failings that we have had and short comings we have had and how we got to those places and how we learned through those. And they’re being told as they were.
“So that authenticity and that transparency,” he said, “is invaluable because a lot of us in different corporations and others, we just can’t do that for very, very understandable reasons.” So he said, “please don’t underestimate the power and impact of what NASA is able to share in this regard.”
And Joe, you’ve probably had I’m sure a lot of moments in your life like that too, and perhaps the audience has, where you hear something and it just makes you stop and it makes you listen and then digest that and try to evaluate that. So I’ve had that moment plus other moments that just have made it real for me. I’ve seen it.
So it makes us feel that we have a humble honor to do this for the crews that we lost. I think their mission continues. So we are asking those very brave folks that sacrificed their lives for what they believed in, we are asking them to go back to work with us for another mission to teach the lessons learned. And then we listen to the folks that receive this information and we truly believe that through collaborations and partners around the world that we can actually be really, really effective of saving lives and hopefully helping a mission’s success in the future for a lot of folks.
Isn’t it true that a crisis can really focus the mind and the heart of a team to really do – to what that CEO is implying - to do the things that need to get done and in the way they need to get done. It really is an interesting study.
It’s amazing. And just a real quick add-on to what you said, because you made a very, very powerful insight, I think. I would never personally ever want to experience that again, the loss of Columbia and going through the aftermath of that, losing a crew and vehicle, I would never want to do that, but I can tell you it has changed me. And again, I harken back to folks in other industries perhaps, or perhaps in the military experiences that have had similar things that made their life... that was a turning point in their life that made them a bit different.
So it really just inspired us to, again, do something bigger than us. We had to protect the public, we had to get the crew home, that was not a debate or a question, it was we will get the crew home as best we can and we will get Columbia home. And in the early days, being very humble and saying this moment, this very early moment in time, we are not exactly sure how we’re going to do this but I can tell you we’re going to do this, we’re going to find a way to do this, we’re going to do it very safely and successfully. And having that commitment that we found ourselves in uncharted territory but we’re going to get there and having that confidence that we’re going to get there.
And that crisis I think inspired us. In this case, it was in memory of the crew. We’re going to do this for them. And if I can coin a phrase, failure is not an option, it really wasn’t for us. We’re going to make this happen and we’re going to find the ways to do that.
So we are recording this podcast in early April and you brought to my attention the importance of the date of April 12. And in the context of the date of April 12, I want you to close and make a comment about how important inspiration is as the special sauce that makes all this stuff really work anyway, right? All the best plans, all the best programs, all the best lessons learned, without inspiration where would they be? So if you could just briefly comment on that from your perspective?
Sure. That’s a great point because April 12 is, in our world, our business, in space flight, it’s a pretty important day. April 12, 1961 was the first man in space. And then in 1981, April 12 was the first launch of Space Shuttle Columbia. And now it’s 39 years since that date. So April 12 holds a special place in our hearts for inspiring firsts and inspiring what is achievable.
So interestingly enough, last year we launched the Columbia national tour on April 12. So Columbia first launched in ’81. Last year I called it the relaunch of Columbia on her next mission and we did it April 12. So I think that’s a very important comment you make because when we talk failures and we talk the difficult part of this, and there is a very difficult, perhaps even dark in some ways, side to this story, I would humbly suggest that is not where the story ends.
What is in my heart personally is I want this to be a bright story at the end of the day. So we have to talk about the dark part, we have to talk about the difficult part, and talk about the failures and go through that, that’s a very, very important part of it. But what my desire to do is to end everything on a high note because I want personally, and the folks that I interface with on the program want this as well, is to want something very beautiful to come out of all this.
So, if you will, Joe, I think of it as getting rays of light to pierce through that darkness. We have been through this difficult time but every time that we can together collaborate and work together to make something more successful, more safe, to learn something, we impact the future and we impact the folks that come after us. And I think there is no better tribute I can humbly suggest to the loss of our crews and our vehicles as to bring that light back in and to do things better.
Don’t repeat the mistakes of the past. I believe it was Winston Churchill that made the comment of those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. I think those are unbelievably poignant words and I actually open a lot of my talks with those because I truly believe that. There’s thousands of years of human history before us, a lot of smart folks came and we can learn a lot if we are willing to listen and we can apply those to the future.
So if I can say that from a point of inspiration, it really is a goal of changing the future for the better, if you will. And I think we definitely can do that.