Lesson 036: Drawing the line on following orders
TV Series: Star Trek - The Next Generation
Season/Episode: 7/12 ('The Pegasus')


Capt. Picard is forced into taking Enterprise into an extremely dangerous situation for a low level mission by an Admiral on board.

Even though Capt. Picard follows through with the Admiral's orders, Capt. Picard tells the Admiral privately, that if he (Capt. Picard) believes the risk to the ship and the crew exceeds acceptable levels for this low priority mission, then he will abort the mission and that the admiral may charge him with insubordination if he wishes, however, he will not jeopardize the ship or the lives of his crew for this simple mission.


When forced into following orders with which we may disagree, we need to recognize that the one giving the orders may not really appreciate the front line realities of the situation. The hazardous risk factors to the personnel or the organization may be overshadowed by the exigency and political importance of the mission in the minds of those making the decision.

It is definitely worth our while to attempt to highlight to our management that if the success of the mission results in the elimination of the personnel or the destruction of the organization, of what real value is the mission?

Ensuring the safety of the organization and its personnel may very well override the importance of the mission for us.

Also, we must evaluate the consequences of being charged with insubordination by not following the orders, versus following the orders to its resulting eventual disaster and perhaps being blamed for the failure of the mission, while those giving the orders originally are never held accountable and escape punishment.

Drawing the line, like Capt. Picard, and willing to accept the consequences for our actions of disobeying orders, may not always be justifiable, but it is definitely conscionable, if the motivation is the survival of the personnel or the mission or the organization.

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