By | Ken Downer | www.rapidstartleadership.com
What do jet engines and work teams have in common? If either generate too much heat, they will self-destruct. Aeronautical engineers found a surprising way to adapt their engines so they could handle more heat and operate at higher capacities. Today we’ll look at three ways to apply their approach to leadership, and boost our own team performance.
Loss of Structural Integrity
Next time you fly, consider this little tidbit: the heat generated inside a jet engine is hot enough to melt the blades of the turbine that makes it run.
So how does that work?
I came across this fact in a book I recently read, The Perfectionists: How Precision Engineers Created the Modern World (affiliate link). Author Simon Winchester shares that the first jet engine turbine blades were made from steel. That was OK for a start, but it limited performance. The higher the temperature in the combustion chamber, the more powerful your engine can be. Steel loses its structural integrity at temperatures higher than 500 degrees Celsius, so the first engines weren’t very powerful.
To improve their capacity, engineers developed alloys of nickel and chromium, which held their strength through 1,400 degrees Celsius. As a result, engines could operate at far higher temperatures and develop greater thrust.