Are You Willing to Ruin Your Project?

With all the news about the Mars rover Curiosity landing [1] I stumbled upon this article from the Chicago Tribune about rover Chief Engineer Rob Manning. It is a perfect example of how you can take a negative thinker and utilize their “powers”, especially during the planning phase of a project:

Regardless of whether the Curiosity rover lands safely on Mars on Sunday night, Manning can say, with a clear conscience, that he did his best to ruin it.


Manning heads a team of hundreds of engineers who design, test and operate the Mars Science Laboratory, as the rover mission is officially known. But for nine days, he becomes his own team’s worst enemy.


The cheerful veteran of two previous rover missions devises horrible scenarios for the team to face. He throws solar flares at the rover and pokes holes in its fuel system.


You know Murphy’s law, that anything that can go wrong will go wrong? “Well, I’m Murphy,” Manning said.


This sabotage has a purpose: to make sure the rover team members can deal with any challenge that space throws at them.

Whether you’re planning a multi-billion dollar landing on Mars or something more down-to-earth, going over the potential problems ahead of time can save you and your project from disaster. Don’t be afraid to take the time to try and ruin your project…BEFORE you implement it and it’s too late to fix anything.


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