Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Topics: Risk management, Risk, Decision making / Pages: 7 (1710 words) / Published: Oct 3rd, 2013
Jet Propulsion Laboratory Harvard Business School Case 9-110-031
1.1 Should Gentry Lee recommend launch or delay for the Mars Biological Explorer (MBE) mission? Gentry Lee should recommend the launch for the MBE mission. As stated in the case study, Gentry Lee is introduced to the project with a significant amount of experience working with NASA and interplanetary exploration missions (Kaplan and Mikes, 2010). Multiple review boards took place to discuss in detail the consequences and likelihood of risks occurring. Tiger teams were established to find resolutions to existing problems weeks before the launch date. The case study eludes to a high probability of the budget increasing if the launch is delayed, and the probability the mission would not be successful was low. Because of this, Gentry Lee should recommend the launch of the MBE mission.

1.2 What are the most important factors to consider in this mission?
JPL invested substantial time “Identifying, measuring, and applying risk factors against the value opportunity and the cost of failure” (VMware 2013). This methodology was a key process to deciding to launch or delay the launch of MBE. One factor that had an impact is regarding the current team members. Because CalTech operated Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), it is likely that the majority of engineers part of the mission team, were new graduates from CalTech. At that moment in the project life cycle, engineers have been in place for years and gained knowledge and experience that were vital to the project. If the launch is delayed there is a possibility the team members will change due to contract changes and company attrition and/or employee turnover. Along with the team members changing, technology is advancing, “Newer technologies had evolved since the project had started four years ago” (Kaplan and Mikes, 2010). Although additional testing and development can occur during the delay, it should be considered and asked if the

References: Kaplan, R. & Mikes, A. (2010). Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Harvard Business School. Marks, N. (2013, June 25). What makes an effective Chief Risk Officer. Retrieved from Price Waterhouse Coopers. (2008). Retrieved from: Redmill, F. (2002). Risk Analysis – A subjective Process. Engineering Management Journal VMware, Inc. (2013). How Risk Analysis Streamlines Decision Making for Major IT Initiatives [White paper].Retrieved from

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