Rob Manning did everything in his power to screw up the Curiosity rover’s landing on Mars last night. Manning not only cut radio signals to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s control room, but also simulated a hole being poked in the rover’s fuel system and solar flares flying toward the spacecraft.
Why would he do this?
Because he is the chief engineer for the rover mission, and wanted his team to be able to handle any worst-case scenario.
“Being a gremlin allows me to soul-search and look at all the things that I missed,” Manning told the Chicago Tribune in the days before last night’s landing.
Manning’s mischief would certainly get a thumbs up from management expert Margaret Heffernan. In a thought-provoking talk given at TEDGlobal 2012, Heffernan shared a counterintuitive lesson learned in her years running businesses and organizations — that conflict and opposition are essential for good thinking.
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