The Power of Accepting Criticism

Update Sunday Feb. 22 . . . .
The initiator of the email change has written and asked that I remove the original text.  As you can see, I have complied with that request.  I stand by my apology to the folks who have done great work in hypersonic research. 

The Power of Accepting Criticism


Next week I am on the agenda of the NASA Project Management Challenge training event to give a talk on “The Power of Accepting Criticism”.  This was a talk that I planned to give last year, but a conflict caused me to back out at the last minute.  So up until last evening, I was feeling pretty good about having the speech ready, it was written a year ago, with only minor updates to polish it up.


Now I think I’m going to tear that speech up and write a new one.  Same topic, new info.  All because of an email exchange I had last evening.


Here is what I got – not as a comment to my blog, but as a direct email — as I was waiting for my plane to take me home:



<Original email text deleted at the request of the initiator>




On my blackberry I thumbed out a quick reply explaining my blog and felt pretty good that the note would assuage the email author. 


I was wrong.  Here was his response to my flimsy explanation:



<Original email text deleted at the request of the originator>


Double Ouch!


I had three and a half hours of electronic isolation on the plane last night to ponder this exchange.  Here is my conclusion:


He’s right. 


I did a tremendous disservice to those folks who have worked diligently in the area of hypersonic flight.  A number of teams have launched test vehicles:  Australian, Russian, others.  The most impressive was the NASA Hyper-X test program which had two very successful tests about five years ago.  Summarizing these efforts in two or three superficial sentences clearly demeans their achievements.  I would offer a humble apology to those who labor in this field, particularly all of those who on the Hyper-X project.


In review, it is clear that I have become lax in my technical explanations.  It is the height of laziness to brush off a subject because it is hard to explain to the lay public and therefore not to make the effort.  So I pledge to renew my efforts to be more technically precise in these posts while still attempting to make some of these subjects clear to the non-expert reader.


Second, I promise, no more whiny blogs about postings on the internet.  The nature of some of the discourse on the internet is simply a fact of twenty first century life which I am not going to be able to change and therefore it is unworthy of my complaint. 


Finally, no more putting down the public because they are not experts in the space field.  My job here should be education, not criticism.


Well, enough for one day.  I have a speech to revise.