I am feeling pretty good about an almost empty inbox for the first time in as long as I can remember, and then a request arrives: “please can you do some blogging for the Integrated Sensors and Systems team?”. My boss suggested I write about some of the things we discussed in the Strait and Narrow pub during my induction to the company, but upon seeing my blank look (I usually don’t pause for breath) he steered me, “you know, write about why you joined Inzpire and not one of the major Primes? All of those things we were talking about?” Ha! Easy I thought, but then looking at the words ‘…it was the only positive offer I had…’ I knew that our Marketing Manager Becki wouldn’t be satisfied with that as a contribution for the blog!
And then I began to think. I knew exactly why I’d wanted to join Inzpire – it’s innovative, passionate, and revolutionary; the list is long and had all the things that I really believed in. But how to articulate that? Well, I recently attended a company briefing with the CEO Hugh, and I discovered that he is totally mad about Space (and most things!) having read Astrophysics at university. I found out during that brief how the Inzpire logo was the emergence of the sun from a total solar eclipse, and how that related to Hugh’s vision of Inzpire becoming the ‘most respected and trusted Defence Company on the planet.’ So, as it’s never too early to court the Big Boss, I went straight for a Space reference to help me explain how I see Inzpire.
Every now and then, there are people who seem to tap directly into your core values with a few brilliantly chosen words; they offer clarity of thought and leadership which provides the freedom to the team to just be as good as can possibly be. Of course sometimes these moments are born out of tragedy; in 1967, NASA’s Apollo 1 Command Module was engulfed in flames on the launch pad during a test and the three astronauts inside were killed. Though there was an investigation 3 months later which instigated far reaching changes, Gene Kranz (the Flight Director) gave a speech almost immediately to the team. For me his words and leadership resonate loudly across so many worlds, and anyone in our business should be made to read it again and again. This is what he said:
Spaceflight will never tolerate carelessness, incapacity, and neglect. Somewhere, somehow, we screwed up. It could have been in design, build, or test. Whatever it was, we should have caught it. We were too gung ho about the schedule and we locked out all of the problems we saw each day in our work. Every element of the program was in trouble and so were we. The simulators were not working, Mission Control was behind in virtually every area, and the flight and test procedures changed daily. Nothing we did had any shelf life. Not one of us stood up and said, “Dammit, stop!” I don’t know what Thompson’s committee will find as the cause, but I know what I find. We are the cause! We were not ready! We did not do our job. We were rolling the dice, hoping that things would come together by launch day, when in our hearts we knew it would take a miracle. We were pushing the schedule and betting that the Cape would slip before we did.
From this day forward, Flight Control will be known by two words: “Tough” and “Competent.” Tough means we are forever accountable for what we do or what we fail to do. We will never again compromise our responsibilities. Every time we walk into Mission Control we will know what we stand for. Competent means we will never take anything for granted. We will never be found short in our knowledge and in our skills. Mission Control will be perfect. When you leave this meeting today you will go to your office and the first thing you will do there is to write “Tough and Competent” on your blackboards. It will never be erased. Each day when you enter the room these words will remind you of the price paid by Grissom, White, and Chaffee. These words are the price of admission to the ranks of Mission Control.
So why did I choose Inzpire? I chose Inzpire because trust is at the centre of the vision and the direction to ‘do the right thing’ is clear. It’s not just a throwaway line either, it’s at the very heart of what I witnessed before I joined and, more importantly, it is something that I have now seen from within. It’s real, it’s challenging, and it feels good.
The author of this post has chosen to remain anonymous due to the nature of their role