Wednesday, October 29, 2008

[courage] should the underling call out the celebrity

The Jonathan Ross saga, which everyone is sick to death of now, illustrates one thing to me - what does a young producer do when an £18m a year star misbehaves? Getting off that and on to the Tenerife disaster in 1977, here was the critical exchange, prior to the KLM plane moving off down the runway:

17 :06 :32 (KLM first officer) – Is hij er niet af dan? {Is he not clear then?}

17 :06 :34 (KLM captain) – Wat zeg je? {What do you say?}

17 :06 :35 (KLM first officer) – EstIs hij er niet af, die Pan American? {Is he not clear that Pan American?}

17 :06 :36 (Angry KLM captain) – Jawel. {Oh yes. - emphatic}

For those not familiar with the story, the pilot was one of the main trainers at HQ who was "shaking the cobwebs out", having not flown for some time, except on simulators in the training room. Captain Jacob Veldhuyzen van Zanten was a company star, the golden boy, a celebrity who'd even graced the pages of the company in-flight magazine.

The First Officer was experienced but not in the same league, celebrity-wise, as the Captain. It was the Captain's impatience to be off home [with some justification perhaps] which tipped him over the safety edge and the First Officer did not object.

It must be tough for an underling to call a celebrity on a clear error which could make it all go pear shaped. I wonder if we'd have the guts to do it?



In a heart beat.It pays to speak up.

Gracchi said...

James this is wise analysis- I think that people are often awed by senior or more famous people even when they have doubts.

CherryPie said...

This one thing I have to do regardless of the cost to me!

It is quite fascinating how the initial challenge on a decision/comment plays out.

But even more fascinating is how people feel and react after they have assessed the information!