There may not be an immediately obvious parallel between healthcare design and construction and space exploration. But once the topic of teamwork is broached, how the two fit together quickly becomes a lot more clear.

Teamwork is what allows our industry to construct the massively complicated facilities where even the very sickest of patients can be cured. And teamwork, as it turns out, is also what played a significant role in a successful return to earth for the Apollo 13 crew, whose near-death experience not only captured our nation’s attention when it happened but did once again when the major motion picture by the same name was released.

Joined together in an opening keynote session at the ASHE PDC Summit being held this week in Tampa, Florida, Gene Kranz, NASA flight control director, and James Lovell, commander of Apollo 13, related the tale of the catastrophe that occurred when the Apollo 13’s oxygen tank exploded in outer space and how, through the teamwork of the astronauts on board the craft and Kranz’s staff at mission control in Houston, it was successfully resolved.

“Failure is not an option” is the phrase now made famous by Kranz, and a concept that can be easily adapted to any field. Likewise, the foundations of mission control may be geared toward the direction of shuttle missions, but include qualities important to any professional development: discipline, competence, confidence, responsibility, toughness, and teamwork.

There was one quote from Kranz that struck a chord in me and that I think was the real takeaway when all is said and done: “Chemistry in any organization is a force amplifier.” Within our own companies and organizations, we all need to work cohesively toward a common goal if we want to truly accomplish what we set out to do, whether that be to build a new hospital or travel from the Earth to the moon and back again.