Tuesday, July 30, 2013

What Do You Care What Other People Think?

As I mentioned a few months back, I always have a soft spot for Physicists. For years, after collecting a few copies of Einstein's and Hawking's, I have been looking for Feynman's books in Malaysia but always failed.

A few years ago, I finally bought "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! (Adventures of a Curious Character)", but then, somehow, I totally forgot about that book! (Ya, crazy huh? I still couldn't believe this!) Anyway, years later, I accidentally found it in my bookshelf recently, and I couldn't put down the book. I finished it in 2 nights.

So, during our "Half" Peninsular Malaysia road trip, when I visited Kinokuniya at KLCC, I couldn't resist but to buy a few Feynman's books (and of course, other titles too, spent over RM300 there in less than 1 hour). The first title that I finished reading was “What Do You Care What Other People Think”.

The first part of the book is about the love stories between Feynman and his father, his mother, his first love, and his family. The title "What Do You Care What Other People Think" came from his first wife's comment to him, when she tricked him in doing some embarrassing acts. He did them anyway, I think partly because he loved her, partly because she was dying, and partly because he knew that's true.

The second part of the book mainly revolves around the true stories of the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster. (FYI, The Rogers Commission Report was created by a Presidential Commission charged with investigating the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster during its 10th mission, STS-51-L. The report, released and submitted to President Ronald Reagan on 9 June 1986, both determined the cause of the disaster that took place 73 seconds after lift-off, and urged NASA to improve and install new safety features on the shuttles and in its organizational handling of future missions.)

Reading these stories had further strengthen my values that instilled long time ago. I believe manufacturers are responsible to produce products with quality that exceed customers' implied expectations with conscience.
I used to dream of working in NASA when I was in primary school (I gave up this dream after I found out their minimum height requirements :p). Reading these behind the scene stories from Richard Feynman made me realize that even NASA has no difference.
  1.  The communication between management and the floor is always the key weakness / strength of an organization.
  2. Criteria are always being changed when the reality cannot catch up with the original expectations
  3. People tend to be unrealistic in making contracts, and in estimating the costs / difficulties of each project. 
  4. Departments that spend a lot of money and resources in the important but not urgent activities (making sure that no problems happen) always being victimized. It is always seen as "wasting money on preventing things that never give us problems".
  5.  When being assigned to carry out an investigation, most people focus on preparing a perfect report than actually spending resources in finding the root cause
My intention of listing the above is not to tell you how bad the manufacturing world is, but to remind you the reality.
I would like to remind you that while we still have our conscience intact, it is our responsibility to provide correct and sufficient information to the decision makers, and to remind the decision makers on what is right when necessary.
You don't have to care what other people think :)

“For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled.” ~ Richard Feynman

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