Apollo 13 - Film Review
Relation to Effective Teams
Working in Groups and Teams LOS 3150
May 8, 2009
When facing issues, conflicts, and the attainment of goals having the resources of a fully functional and focused team are irreplaceable. A team that has clear goals and strategies in place is more likely to succeed even when faced with the greatest types of adversity. In the movie, Apollo 13, the cast of characters is faced with achieving a goal under severe pressure and numerous problems, that if not successfully attained will cost people their lives.  The organization had a common goal that was securely set in the minds of each team member and each ...view middle of the document...
At NASA, he was selected out of nine astronauts in 1962. Lovell was chosen as the backup co-pilot for Gemini 4. He orbited Earth aboard Gemini 7 and Gemini 12. Lovell was assigned with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin and together they became the first Americans to fly around the moon on Apollo 8 on Christmas Eve, 1968.
John Swigert was one of 19 astronauts selected by NASA in 1966 and quickly became an expert on the Apollo emergency procedures. This knowledge proved invaluable to the Apollo 13’s safe return. He was a member of the support team for Apollo’s 7 and 11 before being assigned Apollo 13. Swigert was from Colorado and became involved in politics. He won a seat in Congress in 1982 but passed away from cancer just before he was sworn into office.
Fred Haise was another one of the 19 astronauts selected by NASA in 1966. He gained valuable experience working with the support crew for the first flight of Apollo 9. Haise also worked on the development and testing of the Apollo lunar module and was considered an expert on the systems. Along with fellow crew member Swigert, this knowledge proved invaluable during Apollo’s 13th’s troubled flight.
Examples offered in “When Teams Work Best” authors Frank Lafasto and Carl Larson discuss the six factors that determine the effectiveness of a team member. These factors are experience, problem solving ability, openness, personal style, supportiveness, and action oriented. In Apollo 13 the team leverages these attributes under the most intense pressure. It is important to note that the crew members also had a personal connection which contributed greatly to the effectiveness of a team. In the movie’s opening scene we watch the interaction of the crew members in a casual setting. It’s clear that the crew mates have a friendship that stretches past the boundaries of work and into their personal lives including immediate family.
The Apollo 13 crew as well as the ground control team shares a high level of problem solving ability combined with a high level of trust which is tested at various points in the film. In one scene the team successfully follows very close instructions on building a CO2 filter from only the items available to them on the space craft. This example is key to how teams can function effectively, as the initial construction of the filter was done by the ground control team then communicated by radio to the spacecraft.
Another scene that gave an example of similar problem solving skills was during an issue with navigation equipment. After losing access to their navigation tools, the team worked together to keep the moon centered in a window to the outside to avoid losing their trajectory. Such a quick response to serious situation could only have been achieved by a fully functioning team.
The film also offers a good example of strong leadership and the personal style displayed by Captain Lovell. Jim Lovell added to the team building...