Things to watch for in Apollo 13

1. The failure of the #5 engine is successfully treated as a "disturbance problem;" the mission is brought back to its planned trajectory by burning the other four engines a little longer.

2. For a short period, the loss of electrical power is treated like a disturbance problem to be overcome so they can get back to normal operation.  Watch as the focus of activity shifts from "repair the problem" to "maximize the opportunity to get home alive."  This is why I title this lecture "Houston, we have an opportunity."

3. Gene Kranz, Mission Control, uses most or all of the Vroom/Yetton leadership styles During the countdown, he is like a consensus-seeker because the decision to launch must be unanimous.  When he says "We never lost an American in space. We're sureashell not going to lose one on my watch. Failure is not an option." he is a pure autocrat -- he does not need anyone's input in making this command decision.  The rest of the time he sometimes shares the aspects of the problem with individuals (Consultative Autocrat 2) and sometimes with groups (Consultative Autocrat 3), while sometimes he just asks for specific information (Consultative Autocrat 1).  President Nixon acts like a Consultative Autocrat 1 when he demands numeric odds of success.

4. The representative from Grumman (the builders of the Lunar Module) is caricatured in the movie as an example of functional fixedness, in contrast to Kranz' line "I don't care about what anything was designed to do. I want to know what it can do."

5. While the decision making is always under time pressure, note that some decisions must be made within seconds, like shutting down the fuel cells.  Other decisions have a time frame of minutes (like shutting down the computer in the command module), hours (the carbon dioxide buildup), or days (the mission as a whole).

6. Kranz says he wants people to consult the engineers who designed every circuit, switch, and lightbulb in the two spacecraft, and the man in the factory who installed it.  Fortunately, he had a couple days to do that.  Before the Challenger space shuttle exploded, two low-level engineers at Morton Thiokol, the builders of the solid rocket boosters, tried to stop the launch because they suspected the O-ring seals would fail on what was, for Florida, an extremely cold morning.  They could not get the attention of the decision makers, so the shuttle was launched and blew up.