Sunk Sub: Looking Under the Hood
Keywords:OceanGate, submersible, Titan, megaprojects, culture, ethics, leadership, management
At first glance, the catastrophic implosion of OceanGate’s Titan submersible in June 2023 looks like a tragic accident. It is terribly sad, but the disaster was due entirely to human failure, hence preventable. To ensure that similar calamities never happen again, we must reveal the hidden patterns that led to the needless deaths of the five people on board. They are the same crash factors that derail 65% of all projects, big and small. They are neither technical nor financial; they are human. And they are likely to be ignored once again. This article distinguishes at least three hidden patterns of failure: first, a woke or political correctness bias; second, groupthink and the silencing of dissenters; and third, overconfidence coupled with impatience. The article then zooms out from the particular Titan case to projects in general: Are its findings applicable to all major and megaprojects? The short answer is yes, they can. The dozens of biases that have been identified in the literature can be categorized in three groups: individual, group, and decision biases. The article gives one example from each group. If these crash factors were systematically revealed in projects, billions in taxpayer moneys could be saved, not to speak of human lives.
Copyright (c) 2023 Journal of Intercultural Management and Ethics
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.