High Velocity Leadership : The Mars Pathfinder Approach to Faster, Better, Cheaper

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9780887309748: High Velocity Leadership : The Mars Pathfinder Approach to Faster, Better, Cheaper
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The project manager for NASA's Mars Pathfinder Mission explains how to accomplish a difficult mission on time, on budget, and under intense pressure and describes how his team used high-performance business tactics and techniques to complete a successful space mission. 35,000 first printing.

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Most of us think of the Mars Pathfinder mission as a triumph of technological wizardry. But Brian Muirhead, the engineer who spearheaded the project, sees it as something else: a triumph of managerial efficiency. The previous Mars mission had cost $3 billion. Muirhead, who was originally hired by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in part because of his real-world experience repairing Harley-Davidson motorcycles, had to do it for $150 million--less, he notes, than it cost James Cameron to film Titanic. The mantra at JPL was "Faster, better, cheaper." In an era of government belt-tightening, NASA had to prove to America that it could manage more spectacular space missions with less money, and in less time, too.

High Velocity Leadership shows how Muirhead and his team proved not only that "Faster, better, cheaper" can work but that's it an excellent way to get things done. He and coauthor Simon walk readers through the project from conception to triumphant completion, giving each chapter a didactic spin. For example, in one chapter he talks about how a manager must be both the "glue" that keeps a team together and the "grease" that keeps it moving forward.

But while Muirhead has learned a few textbook lessons about management--he quotes several gurus in that field--he has learned also from the school of hard knocks. Thus, every management principle described in High Velocity Leadership includes theory, real-life examples from the Mars Pathfinder mission, and a life lesson or two. --Lou Schuler

About the Author:

Brian K. Muirhead was responsible for the design, development, test, and launch of the Mars Pathfinder flight system. For this achievement, Brian was awarded NASA's Outstanding Leadership medal. He was named Engineer of the Year for 1997 by Design News magazine and 1997 Laureate for Space by Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine.

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