My wife and I were watching Seconds From Disaster, a TV series that focuses mainly on plane crashes and we noticed a pattern. It was always several things that caused the plane to crash, not just one. Actually, always at least seven, what I have termed, Cascade Events. Any single event by itself, even up to six Cascades, and no disaster. But it’s that one too many that pushes it over the line.
FREE Today is Stuff Doesn’t Just Happen II; my second book covering seven different disasters and examining the seven cascade events leading to them. From that we can learn The Gift of Failure and how to avoid the same.
Below are some epic quotes from each of the seven disasters:
THE CHALLENGER: ORGANIZATIONAL FAILURE
“My God, Thiokol. When do you want me to launch? Next April?” Senior NASA official on a conference call to the manufacturer of the solid boosters, when they recommended on the morning of the launch that it be postponed.
THE SINKING OF THE KURSK
“It’s dark here to write, but I’ll try by touch. It seems like there are no chances, 10%-20%. Let’s hope that at least someone will read this. Hello to everyone. There is no need to despair.” Captain Lieutenant Dmitri Kolesnikov, commander 7th Compartment (turbine room) Russian submarine Kursk.
THE SULTANA EXPLOSION
“If we arrive safe at Cairo it would be the greatest trip ever made on the western waters, as there were more people on board than were ever carried on one boat on the Mississippi River!” William J, Gambrel, first clerk & part owner of the steamship Sultana.
“Should hostilities once break out between Japan and the United States, it would not be enough that we take Guam and the Philippines, nor even Hawaii and San Francisco. To make victory certain, we would have to march into Washington and dictate the terms of peace in the White House. I wonder if our politicians (who speak so lightly of a Japanese-American war) have confidence as to the final outcome and are prepared to make the necessary sacrifices.” Admiral Yamamoto, Commander Japanese Navy. (Note that this quote was used extensively for propaganda purposed by the United States by leaving out the last sentence)
Mulholland & The St. Francis Dam
During the Los Angeles Coroner’s Inquest, William Mulholland said, “this inquest is a very painful for me to have to attend but it is the occasion of that is painful. The only ones I envy about this whole thing are the ones who are dead.” In later testimony, after responding to a question, he added, “Whether it is good or bad, don’t blame anyone else, you just fasten it on me. If there was an error in human judgment, I was the human, I won’t try to fasten it on anyone else.” William Mulholland, chief engineer, Water Department Los Angeles
THE LAST CZAR
“I am not prepared to be a tsar. I never wanted to become one. I know nothing of the business of ruling.” Nicholas II, last Czar of Russia.
“It was repugnant. Through the eyes of our civilized society it was a disgusting decision. My dignity was on the floor having to grab a piece of my dead friend and eat it in order to survive. ‘But then I thought of my mother and wanted to do my best to get back to see her. I swallowed a piece and it was a huge step – after which nothing happened.” Dr. Robert Canessa