Following up on a post yesterday which made the point that too much of a concern for efficiency can undermine effectiveness, here is a tragic example where efficiency destroyed effectiveness.
Apparently there are some “lost tapes” which preserve the highest-quality raw feed from the moon landing in July 1969. Recently there were rumors that the tapes may have been found. But when NASA recently released some restored footage of the landing, the lost tapes were not among them.
Turns out that the tapes with this footage were most likely erased. Why? From an article on the moon landings on Fox News:
The original videos beamed to earth were stored on giant reels of tapes that each contained 15 minutes of video, along with 13 other channels of live data from the moon.
In the 1970s and 1980s, NASA had a shortage of the tapes and erased about 200,000 and reused them. That’s apparently what happened to the famous moon landing footage.
So in an effort to conserve tapes, the clearest footage of one of the most significant cultural achievements in history was accidentally erased.
Clearly the tapes were not erased on purpose. But that’s the damage often wreaked by the mindset of over-efficiency (even when justified by apparently significant factors, such as a shortage of tapes in this case): mistakes get made and critical, important things are often sacrificed in the charge.