Not many videos have a more failure embracing title than Nickolas Means’ “How to Crash a Plane”. The crash of United Airlines Flight 232 on 19 July 1989 was a paragon of making the most of the hand that is dealt to you. The plane suffered a catastrophic failure which by every analysis should have sent it plummeting to the ground, and yet the pilot found a way to control the plane and even maneuver it to the nearby Sioux City, Iowa airport. The final “landing”, which included a horrific cartwheel of the plane into a nearby field, might have seemed like an ultimate failure especially as 112 died. But astonishingly 184 survived, many walking away from the crash unharmed.

The heart of the plane’s astonishing survival rate, was a management system introduced by United called “Crew Resource Management”. It set a protocol for “inter-personal leadership, communication and dynamics” which had two primary principles:

  • No Heroes – group cooperation prioritized over individual heroics
  • Everyone Has a Voice – a protocol for gleaning the collective wisdom rather than depending on a single person’s knowledge.

The presenter Nickolas Means above tells the riveting tale with insightful analysis and graphics. He related these concepts to his audience of tech developer noting that the benefit of the system is not just in short-term crises, but also in building the strength of a team over time:

  • If there is only one dominant voice and it is constantly correcting new engineers on the team, they’re never going to make the mistakes they need to make in order for them to learn the lessons that they have to learn.

In the end, the flight crew did not fight the failure of their plane, but simply pooled their insights to find the glass half-full as to what parts of the plane still actually worked. It wasn’t many, but it was enough to save 118 souls.