Fly me to the moon

One of the many pleasures of running a seminar business is the chance you get to meet and work with creative and thoughtful speakers, who can be a source of real insight into people and business.

Mark Thomas (no relation!) has worked with us for over twenty years as a course leader and speaker (as well as author). He has run a very successful consultancy business, so he does practice what he preaches. The thousands who have attended his programmes are the better for having met him.

It was Mark who first pointed out to me the merits of the film Apollo 13 as a study in human behaviour, management and leadership. As a result, having previously not been particularly drawn to it on its first release, I watched the film many years ago with this in mind and my goodness what a great study it turns out to be. Thanks, Mark!

I was reminded of this whilst reading the very understated obituary of Joseph Gavin, who died this past week. He was the man who led the team (of 7,500) who designed, tested and built the lunar landing modules, including the famous “The Eagle has landed” module of 1969. His team was behind the Apollo flight lunar landing modules.

The film deals with the real-life drama when “Houston, we have a problem” happened throwing the mission into total confusion. Gavin was the man who worked with NASA to reprogram the landing craft to tow the crippled command module 300,000 miles round the moon and earthwards. Failure was not an option.

The film is stuffed full of valuable insights (as well as being tense and exciting). You can read more about the leadership and management lessons of Apollo 13 on the web. And, if you haven’t seen the film, please get onto Amazon for the DVD and watch it!

In days when X-Factor dross is providing ludicrous role models, it is sobering to read about such an inspirational man as Joseph Gavin (1920-2010). Unfortunately, fame these days belongs to the fatuous. Aspiring to celebrity is, in truth, turning our backs on real greatness.

Published on Dec 03, 2010 by Neil Thomas