As a 7 year old I vividly remember my Dad waking me up around 3.30am on Tuesday July 21st 1969 (not the 20th as in the US) and watching Neil Armstrong walk on the moon – still the most amazing event in my lifetime (closely followed by seeing the Clash live back in '77!). Little did I know that 43 years later I would be an adopted Buckeye when my fellow Ohioan, Neil Armstrong passed away. But far from being a celebrity, Armstrong was a team player and a process nerd! In NASA's oral history he commented on the real achievement of the moon landing:
"Each of the components of our hardware were designed to certain reliability specifications, and the majority, to my recollection, had a reliability requirement of 0.99996, which means that you have four failures in 100,000 operations. I've been told that if every component met its reliability specifications precisely, that a typical Apollo flight would have about 1,000 separate identifiable failures.
In fact, we had more like 150 failures per flight, substantially better than statistical methods would tell you that you might have. I can only attribute that to the fact that every guy in the project, every guy at the bench building something, every assembler, every inspector, every guy that's setting up the tests, cranking the torque wrench, and so on, is saying, man or woman, "If anything goes wrong here, it's not going to be my fault, because my part is going to be better than I have to make it." And when you have hundreds of thousands of people all doing their job a little better than they have to, you get an improvement in performance. And that's the only reason we could have pulled this whole thing off."
How hard can change be with this is as a benchmark?