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谈如何在危机中保持冷静,NASA飞控主管告诉你

Business Insider 2017年11月19日

当你一心只想跳楼的时候,并不一定是你真的遇到危机的时候。

每当保罗·希尔回想起他在NASA飞控室指挥的一次重大险情处置的经历,他经常情不自禁地感叹:“我的天,我们搞不好可能把所有人都害死。”

那是2001年3月,发现号航天飞机在飞向国际空间站的过程中突然遭遇重大险情。危急关头,希尔并没有慌了手脚,而是专注于手上掌握的信息。

当时,发现号航天飞机已经与国际空间站对接了,此时一位飞行控制员发现,发现号的两个冷却循环中的一个基本上已经停止工作了,很可能是由于循环系统内部结冰造成的。

如果冰块破裂,有可能会损害航天飞机的冷却系统,进而烧坏发现号上的电脑。

是让宇航员冒着生命危险实施紧急脱离,还是任由发现号变成一艘“死船”,继续与空间站保持驳接?面临生死考验,宇航员和地面控制中心只有半个小时左右的时间做决定。

希尔对《商业内幕》回忆道:“这可不是个好消息。”

希尔后来撰写了一本书,书名叫《从飞控室到董事会的领导之路:释放团队绩效指南》(Leadership from the Mission Control Room to the Boardroom: A Guide to Unleashing Team Performance)。他曾作为飞行指挥官参与过24次航天飞机和国际空间站的相关任务,并曾领导过2003年哥伦比亚号航天飞机失事事故的调查。

他对《商业内幕》表示,NASA的飞控官们有一定的策略和办法来对抗危机中的压力。而这些办法在2001年的这次危机中帮了大忙。

“我们有可能失去这架航天飞机”

控制中心叫醒了空间站和航天飞机上的所有宇航员,大家立即着手解决冷却循环的问题。工程支持团队没能诊断出具体故障。时间一分一秒地过去,希尔和他的团队目不转睛地盯着数据,控制中心变得异常安静。

“大家在研究数据、彼此说话、通过语音与飞控员交谈以及做决定的时候,就会变得更专注、更冷静。”他说。

后来,航天飞机上的宇航员们加大了两个冷却循环的运行,使其温度达到了标准值以上,最终成功解决了这个问题。

发现号航天飞机最终成功完成了它的使命并安全着陆。经过对冷却系统的检查,证实了冷却循环内确实存在湿度过大的问题。

希尔回忆道:“如果我们不是选择了那种方法应对,我们有可能失去这架航天飞机。假如我们当时做了愚蠢的决定,比如强行脱离空间站,试图向地面返航,那么我们很有可能会失去这些宇航员。”

危机解决后,国际空间站项目经理走了进来,盛赞了希尔的飞控团队。

希尔回忆道:“那是我第一次暂时放下了我们正在做的事,心想:‘这些家伙干了件伟大的事,他们真不错。’直到那时之前,我只想着怎样去做正确的事,半刻也不曾分心过。”

NASA飞行控制中心有战胜恐慌的策略

NASA的飞控团队之所以能成功处置此类灾难性的局面,首先靠的是精神的高度集中。希尔表示,在火烧眉毛的关头,大喊大叫没有任何意义,他的团队只会关注一系列问题:

  • 关于眼前的局面,我们掌握和不掌握的所有情报是什么?
  • 从我们手头上掌握的信息看,形势是什么样的?
  • 如果局面发展下去,最糟糕的结果可能是什么?
  • 团队掌握的信息是否足以判明问题?我们如何才能获得更多信息?
  • 要想保证所有人的安全,有哪些紧急步骤可以采取?

希尔指出,僵化的思维模式也是不可取的,切记不能让过去的经验影响了你对一次新危机的理解——这一点不管对航天还是创业都适用。

“有时危机一发生,你就想迅速采取行动。这时你可能会说:‘嘿,我们以前遇到过这种局面。我们以前有三次都是这样做的,而且都管用,所以这次我也要这样做’。而灾难往往就是这样造成的。”

“我的天哪!我们刚刚真的那么干了?”

正因为如此,希尔也会经常向团队灌输一丝“恐惧”感,以免他们真的被过去的成功经验影响了判断。

他表示:“我们今天做的每一件事、每一个决定都很重要。我们必须仔细研究数据,做出正确的决定,采取正确的行动,或者给出正确的建议,以保护这些宇航员,况且这些人本来就是我们的朋友。”

这样的话,只要将精神集中在科学分析和一系列特定的问题上,哪怕是在危机期间,NASA的飞行控制团队也能保持冷静、理性的工作氛围。

希尔表示:“我的一个老上司曾经说过:‘当你一心只想跳楼的时候,并不一定是你真的遇到危机的时候。你要做的是收集更多的信息,晚一点再恐慌也不迟’。”

希尔也是这样做的。也正因为如此,发现号航天飞机才安然度过了冷却系统故障造成的“生死半小时”。

“在NASA的飞行控制中心,只要你经受了训练,熟悉了这个环境,即便是十分棘手的紧急情况,也不是那么难以对付的。”希尔说道:“不过当我换了班走出飞控室时,我记得我望着天空,心中想道:‘天哪,我们刚刚真的那么干了?’”(财富中文网)

本文原载于Business Insider.com。

译者:贾政景

Looking back now on an incident that took place in 2001 while he directed a flight from NASA’s mission control room, Paul Hill often thinks, “Holy cow, we could’ve killed everybody.”

But in that moment, during the space shuttle Discovery’s March 2001 expedition to the International Space Station (ISS), Hill just focused on the facts at hand.

The shuttle was docked at the ISS when a flight controller flagged the fact that one of its two cooling loops had essentially stopped working — possibly due to ice forming inside the system.

If the ice broke off, it could ultimately damage the cooling system and burn out Discovery’s computers.

The crews and mission control would then have about half an hour to either risk loss of life and initiate an emergency de-orbit, or remain stranded on the space station with a dead shuttle.

“That wasn’t good news,” Hill told Business Insider.

Hill, the author of “Leadership from the Mission Control Room to the Boardroom: A Guide to Unleashing Team Performance,” worked on 24 different space shuttle and ISS missions as a flight director and led the investigation into the 2003 Columbia disaster.

He told Business Insider that NASA’s flight controllers employ certain strategies and thought processes to combat stress during crises. Those tactics came in handy during the 2001 incident.

‘We would’ve lost that shuttle’

Mission control woke up both the space station crew and the shuttle crew, who started working to solve the problem with the cooling loop. The engineering support team failed to identify the issue. Hill and his team watched the data, as mission control became quieter.

“Everybody tends to become more focused and more calm as they’re working through the data, talking to each other, talking to the flight director on the voice loops, and making decisions,” he said.

The crew corrected the issue by running both cooling loops hotter than they were supposed to be run.

Ultimately, the Discovery completed its mission and landed safely. A review of the cooling systems confirmed there’d been excess moisture in the loops.

“Had we not treated it the way we did, we would’ve lost that shuttle,” Hill said. “There’s a really good chance we could have lost those astronauts if that’d happened after we had un-docked or we had tried something foolish like jumping off the space station and trying to run for the ground.”

After it was all over, the space station program manager came in and commended the mission control team.

“It was the first time I actually sort of disconnected from what we were doing and thought, ‘Oh yeah, these guys are doing a great job. They are really good,'” Hill said. “Up until then it was all about doing the right thing and not taking our eyes off the ball.”

Mission control has a strategy for staving off panic

This intense focus is partly how the flight controllers are able deal with potentially catastrophic situations. Instead of “running down the halls with our hair on fire,” Hill said the team would focus on a series of questions.

What was everything they knew — and did not know — about the situation at hand?

What did the data actually say about the situation at hand?

What was the worst thing that could happen as a result of the situation?

Did the team have enough information to know for sure — and how could they get more information?

What immediate steps could be taken to continue making progress in the mission or keep everyone safe?

He said it’s important not to let past strategies or outcomes bias your understanding about a new crisis — whether you’re flying people into space or launching your own business.

“Where you get in trouble is some bad thing starts happening and you feel the urge to start taking action,” he said. “You say, ‘Hey, I’ve been in this situation before. This is what we did the last three times. It’s always worked so I’m going to do it again.'”

‘Oh my God, did we just do that?’

Hill said that’s why he always tried to instill a bit of “fear” in his team members, lest they allow their past successes go to their heads.

“What we do today, the decision we make today, matters,” he said. “We have to look at this data and make the right decision and take the right action or make the right recommendation to protect these astronauts, these people who are friends of ours.”

By focusing on scientific analysis and honing in on specific questions, Hill said NASA’s mission control is able to establish a calm, logic-driven environment, even in the midst of a potential crisis.

“As an old boss of mind said, ‘That first indication that you have a crisis is probably not when you want to go and jump out the window,'” Hill said. “Get a little bit more information, we can always panic later.”

Hill did just that, once the danger had passed during the crisis with the Discovery’s cooling loops.

“Really ugly emergencies in mission control, once you get trained and you’re accustomed to the environment, aren’t that difficult to deal with,” he said. “But when I walked out after I was finished with my shift, I remember looking up at the sky, and thinking, ‘Oh my God, did we just do that?'”

This article originally appeared on BusinessInsider.com

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