The Chicken Test
I am currently involved in a complex project that could well take at least several years to complete. While I am not immersed in all the nitty gritty stuff, nor am I the project manager or sponsor, I focus on communications and try to foresee issues before they come to the forefront. And while I have worked on many projects throughout the years, there are always new wrinkles in any new project environment that test the skills and abilities of even the most qualified project manager. Usually, when I work on a project, I am not as involved in the specific task driven initiatives and deep structure that are required in true project management environments.
Even back during my days working in the biomedical device business, there were certain scenarios that project teams used to determine the viability of various solutions that have been proposed. The “test” of the potential project solutions is called “the chicken test.” This “test” has been around for ages, but the big idea here is that in the design and testing of new jet engines and windshields, where the entire concept started, scientists have found that firing chicken carcasses through air cannons at aircraft engines and glass areas very closely simulates the real life conditions that pilots might experience during live bird strikes.
Most notably, a flock of birds disabled both engines of Flight 1549 on January 15, 2009 when Captain Sully was responsible for his famous landing on the Hudson River after take-off from La Guardia en route to Charlotte. All 155 people on board survived and Sully credited his lifetime of preparation and experience as the reasons the water landing was successful. So you can see that there is real life basis for the test that project engineers use to test the equipment – but sometimes even the best laid plans don’t adequately represent potential real world conditions.
A major concern of project managers is when to conduct the chicken test. The project must be far enough along to have a viable chance of success, but not so far along that a “failed” test could result in severe financial distress to the entire effort, resulting in the possibility of the project being scrapped. In fact, usually there are two tests – one early on to test the proposed design solution – and one later in the process to verify that the solution was workable and successful. And while it may seem insensitive to use chicken carcasses (either fresh or frozen depending on the experiment) it is a much better solution that not having testing and running the risk of failure in the field.
What I have learned is that regardless of the project, there is always a need to test the data and decide if the solution is worth carrying out. In project language this is called “design freeze” – the moment that you no longer look at alternatives and are committed to the course of action that you have determined to be in the best interests of all parties concerned.
It seems to me that each of us conducts a “chicken test” with our faith – sooner or later. When we are young, we explore a number of alternatives and hopefully, somewhere in the process, we determine that we wish to follow Christ. I can argue that those people who make this decision have achieved “design freeze” – they quit looking for other alternatives and commit their lives to Christ. But sometimes, that isn’t what happens.
People are afraid to commit and they have to test all the various religions to see what they think will work for them. They are afraid to take the “chicken test” until late in the game and sometimes, it is almost too late to make a choice for Christ. The good news is that other people and their salvation don’t hinge on your decision. Only your own eternal security. And when crises come, and other forms of religion don’t fill the void, Christ will always pass every test we can can put Him up against – including the chicken test. Christ always prevails.
The verse for this evening is a very short verse. We are told in 1 Th. 5:21, “Test everything. Hold on to the good.” This sounds like a recipe for success, doesn’t it? Of course, the “good” is our belief in Christ. My encouragement this evening is that God and His Son are open to being tested by you. They won’t fail…. My prayer is that once you conduct your test, and settle on a decision for Christ, you will never look back and wonder if you made the right choice. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…