Amongst the landmark sayings of our time the title of this post is in the same league as ‘one small step for man, a giant leap for mankind’, made famous by Neil Armstrong landing on the Moon for the first time.
Perhaps the essence of the Houston statement is the breathtaking reaction of ‘how do we solve this one?’. How do you fix a problem hundreds of thousands of miles out in Space?
The incredible resolve and ensuing success of the ground staff in tackling the problem is now legend and well documented. It required ingenuity and teamwork to deal with a situation that seemed terminally irretrievable.
We can learn from their example. There are times in our lives when we are confronted by a seemingly impossible situation, one that threatens to upset the whole order of things for us and where the solution seems to be out of our reach.
This is when a corporate approach is required, where the problem is broken down to each of its components that are delegated to specific teams co-ordinated by Team Leaders who report to the Executive in charge of Problem Resolution.
Essentially it’s a process of ‘divide and conquer’ whereby the problem can be addressed at the ‘grassroots’ level. Many problems can loom larger in our minds because we don’t fully understand the cause, which is the key to successful resolution. The quick reactions of those on board Apollo 13 in shutting down systems that presented danger and transferring to the lunar orbiter Aquarius saved their lives and the tireless efforts of the teams on Earth enabled their safe return. The makeshift solutions put into place to achieve this dealt with the problem at the source and made it possible to work around the limitations that would have otherwise ended in disaster.
To be able to deal with our problems in a similar fashion requires us to disengage from the emotional response to one of detached coolness where we can make level headed decisions about our situation. It also requires the resolve to find a workable solution. By analysing each aspect of the problem independently we are able to establish a priority order for solving each aspect so that the most important requirements are met first.
More than likely we will find that a compromise of some sort is necessary for the solution to work, so that of least cost in the overall sense will be the one chosen. Water is a soft substance that can wear away rock by flow and repetition, even the most seemingly insurmountable problem can also be mitigated in this way. It may take time but persistence and application will work its way through to establishing the real underlying cause which is the first step in finding the solution.