“Navigating Through Turbulence:Some Important Team Qualities”                Mark C. Dickerson       Aeronautics Research ...
Outline•   Background•   Turbulence and “Ops Tempo”•   An Inopportune time for a PM Change•   Lessons Learned             ...
Background    ARMD* Program Content                                       Turbulence                                      ...
Background                   Winds of Change…                                                                     Turbulen...
Background        Refocusing NASA Aeronautics                             Turbulence                                      ...
BackgroundFrogs        Turbulence         New PM          Lessons              6
BackgroundHorses         Turbulence          New PM           Lessons               7
BackgroundFrogs and Horses?                    Turbulence                     New PM                      Lessons         ...
Background         Okay… What do YOU see?                                 Turbulence                                      ...
Background                 Framework for ARMD Program Management Structure                                         Turbule...
Typical Center   Background                            Turbulence                             New PM              Director...
Background          Recognizing the Changes                          Turbulence                                           ...
Background              Mutating Processes                                                           Turbulence           ...
Background                Evolving Content                            Turbulence                                          ...
Background              Enter: A New PM                              Turbulence                                           ...
Background                              Turbulence                               New PM                                Les...
Background       PM Struggles from the Outset                                                           Turbulence        ...
Background      Result: PM Leadership Void                                                          Turbulence            ...
Background                 “This is NOT                     Turbulence                                                   N...
Lessons (Re)-Learned                             Background                             Turbulence                        ...
Background                                                                Turbulence         Supervisory Lessons          ...
Background                                                      Turbulence      Provide Needed Support                    ...
Background         For Program Leadership…                           Turbulence                                           ...
Background       More Thoughts for PI or PD                     Turbulence                                                ...
Background                                                       Turbulence         If You’re the “New Guy”…              ...
Background        Lessons for All Team Members                                   Turbulence                               ...
Background                 Closing Comments                            Turbulence                                         ...
Background   Other Comments?     Turbulence                        New PM                         Lessons“Steady as she go...
Acronyms•   AA – associate administrator•   API – associate principal investigator•   APM – associate project manager•   A...
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Dickerson mark

  1. 1. “Navigating Through Turbulence:Some Important Team Qualities” Mark C. Dickerson Aeronautics Research Project Manager NASA Dryden Flight Research Center Used with Permission
  2. 2. Outline• Background• Turbulence and “Ops Tempo”• An Inopportune time for a PM Change• Lessons Learned 2
  3. 3. Background ARMD* Program Content Turbulence New PM Lessons• Fundamental Aeronautics (FA) – Subsonic Rotary Wing (SRW) – Subsonic Fixed Wing (SFW) – Supersonics (SUP) – Hypersonics HYP)• Aviation Safety – Integrated Vehicle Health Management *Aeronautics – Integrated Resilient Aircraft Control Research Mission Directorate – Integrated Intelligent Flight Deck – Aircraft Aging & Durability• Airspace Systems – Next Generation Air Traffic System (NGATS): Airspace – NGATS Air Traffic Management: Airportal• Aeronautics Test Program (ATP) – Operational Support, Facility Maintenance, Test Technologies, University Research, Outreach to DoD 3
  4. 4. Background Winds of Change… Turbulence New PM Lessons• ARMD Associate Administrator (AA) and Governance Model• FA, SFW, and Team Formation• Largest single project in all of ARMD – Project Management Complexity Factors FA Projects Relative Size 1. Stability of the overall project context. 2. Number of disciplines and methods. 3. Legal, social, or enviro implications. SFW 4. Overall expected financial impact. SRW 5. Strategic importance of the project. SUP 6. Stakeholder cohesion. HYP 7. Number and variety of interfaces. (Duncan, PMC 2009)• Previous PM, the PI, and Dryden’s incumbency• Dryden hit with SOFIA and Constellation back-to-back 4
  5. 5. Background Refocusing NASA Aeronautics Turbulence New PM Lessons The AA’s Three Guiding Principles• We will dedicate ourselves to the mastery and intellectual stewardship of the core competencies of Aeronautics for the Nation in all flight regimes.• We will focus our research in areas that are appropriate to NASA’s unique capabilities.• We will directly address the fundamental research needs of the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NGATS) in partnership with the member agencies of the Joint Planning and Development Office (JPDO). 5
  6. 6. BackgroundFrogs Turbulence New PM Lessons 6
  7. 7. BackgroundHorses Turbulence New PM Lessons 7
  8. 8. BackgroundFrogs and Horses? Turbulence New PM Lessons 8
  9. 9. Background Okay… What do YOU see? Turbulence New PM Lessons The AA’s Three Guiding Principles• We will dedicate ourselves to the mastery and intellectual stewardship of the core competencies of Aeronautics for the Nation in all flight regimes.• We will focus our research in areas that are appropriate to NASA’s unique capabilities.• We will directly address the fundamental research needs of the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NGATS) in partnership with the member agencies of the Joint Planning and Development Office (JPDO). 9
  10. 10. Background Framework for ARMD Program Management Structure Turbulence and working Relationships with Performing Centers New PM Lessons Program Chain Center Chain Center Director is responsible for execution of program at AA Step 6 - Concurrence center, and will delegate that authority as appropriate Step 5 - Negotiate Program PD Plan signed by PD and Center CD Director Step 4 - Concurrence PI POCPr oj ec t Step 3 - Negotiate Project Plan signed by PI, PM, andManagem ent Center POC CenterTeam PS PM Project Management Support Step 2 - Concurrence API Division MgrAss oci at e Step 1 - Negotiate Task PlanPr oj ec t signed by API, APM, andManagem ent Division/Branch Manager Branch MgrTeam APM Chain of Command Connecting Point for Concurrence (All acronyms provided on final slide)
  11. 11. Typical Center Background Turbulence New PM Director Lessons“Uh-Oh…” 11
  12. 12. Background Recognizing the Changes Turbulence New PM Lessons• AA’s strong mandate from Administrator• Interpretation was inconsistent between program chain and institutional chain• Governance Model still being defined, so centers hoped they could fix the “problem”• New way of doing business and unclear intent reduced center points of contact (POC’s) ability to help center management recognize the sea changes ahead• Center management often remained in denial, failed to adapt to model as needed. Some center directors (CDs) did not think that the new processes would stick.• CDs didn’t expect programs to manage FTE* so closely, thought they could still juggle personnel between projects 12 *Full time equivalents
  13. 13. Background Mutating Processes Turbulence New PM Lessons• Incremental release of Governance model left folks unsure of how this was to work.• Centers still seemed to have control over funds at first. This led to power struggle between centers and programs.• Some began to recognize that having APIs and APMs might help to assure technical content under the new paradigm.• In past, center had say on budgets and technical content, with that transferred to PIs, centers were tasked with just implementation and tracking, so center was unprepared for PI’s actual needs in terms of types of support required.• Local people were caught between doing the “right thing” for the project and for their own centers, in between two elephants, with no place to hide from the power struggle. 13
  14. 14. Background Evolving Content Turbulence New PM Lessons• Projects themselves still being defined – How do you decide or recommend where the money should go when work packages are still undefined? – This led to centers trying to define content locally – Led programs to realization that discipline plans were needed, but those were often still at too high a level – Led to requirement to rework efforts again since initial guidance was too vague• Moving budget targets – Projects had to re-allocate resources on the fly – Centers continued to push back in effort to control funds 14
  15. 15. Background Enter: A New PM Turbulence New PM Lessons• Selection based on incorrect perception of what a PM is to do• Personal background, CD role in selection• Immediately set about doing what the local apparatus thought a PM should do: – Tried to become familiar with technical objectives – Looking for people and facilities to get them accomplished and allocate funds to make it happen – Prepared to offload PI of management responsibilities and enable a greater technical focus for PI 15
  16. 16. Background Turbulence New PM LessonsThese were NOT things that the PI wanted his PM to do! 16
  17. 17. Background PM Struggles from the Outset Turbulence New PM Lessons• Turbulence made it difficult to anticipate next requirement• PM unable to complete current task before next one popped up, always more urgent than the last• New guy had limited understanding of many budget and process subtleties – NRA management and tracking – Augmentation Funds management – Making FTE, WYE, Procurement $$, etc all align – Subtle differences between centers, like service pools, overhead rates, ATP funding – More “Output Variables” than “Control Variables”• Often resulted in “leading from the rear” 17
  18. 18. Background Result: PM Leadership Void Turbulence New PM Lessons• Budget Analysts, APMs had to take point position on many decisions – They were also operating on steep learning curve themselves, buffeted by same turbulence• Quality and timeliness suffered due to “PM overload” while trying to adjust to unexpected role in unfamiliar terrain with shifting objectives• FACT: PI doesn’t have time to train a PM on things that are essentially “basics” for a NASA veteran. – PI in same situation as remainder of team, attempting to respond to program and project changes on the fly 18
  19. 19. Background “This is NOT Turbulence New PM working…” Lessons• Eventually the facts became undeniable• Situation led to another PM change• Result: Even more turbulence for project team 19
  20. 20. Lessons (Re)-Learned Background Turbulence New PM Lessons • Things to remember if you’re part of the Institutional Chain • If you’re associated with the Programmatic Chain • Some thoughts if you’re the “PM” or equivalent • Important characteristics for all Team Members 20
  21. 21. Background Turbulence Supervisory Lessons New PM Lessons• Know your people and carefully match them to job requirements – Center Priorities shifted to another project in effort to keep center afloat, this led to PM shift at critical point – New PM unfamiliar with decision processes, governance model, technical objectives, underlying history, financial management requirements, financial tools… • Made personal life-balance choice: not willing to work the massive hours required to correct personal training shortfalls on the fly while executing the largest single project within ARMD.• Need to read the tea leaves and get the true picture – Center made assignment call based on old paradigm 21
  22. 22. Background Turbulence Provide Needed Support New PM Lessons• FACT: Most valid candidates CAN learn this stuff. – One problem was mistaken initial belief on everyone’s part (including his own) that PM already had it down, or could learn it via OJT – A real training program, aimed specifically at preparing your candidate for the actual duties, is a much better idea, especially in a fast-changing environment.• Track their progress and Mentor as required – “They put me here, so I must be the best guy for the job, so keep slugging.” Wrong! 22
  23. 23. Background For Program Leadership… Turbulence New PM Lessons• PI/PD MUST communicate a vision that captures team, so that all are pulling together. – If external environment is turbulent, internal team environment needs to be rock-solid.• Fight Back against unnecessary turbulence… insulate your team – Find someone who can see around the corners for you and offer ways to deal with what is coming. – Stay the course! Do a “reality check” on new requirements. Often “This, too, shall pass!” – Morale suffered a lot because so much work went down drain during next re-plan or re-org. Leaders must address!• Be proactive, both in planning and in response to issues 23
  24. 24. Background More Thoughts for PI or PD Turbulence New PM Lessons• Fight to illuminate “hidden agendas”. Handle them openly. – Senior leaders need to set up systems and processes to discourage “gaming”, encourage team play, i.e. “How would you handle a 15% cut?” Should I be honest or lay low?• HQ failure to share information until late in the game. Want to have it all figured out. (How about letting team help?) – Tell your teams what you want done, not how to do it!• Leader needs to insist on opportunity to help pick his own team 24
  25. 25. Background Turbulence If You’re the “New Guy”… New PM Lessons• Make sure you fully understand the situation• Form alliances and find mentors – If they don’t issue you a mentor, then find your own – A secret: Once you follow their advice, they’re hooked!• Own up to problems/shortcomings from day one – When you’re new there is no shame in asking for help• Rudyard Kipling: “If you can trust yourself…” – Need to make sure that you’ve got the full stanza and “make allowance” as well• Take the initiative to get smart, or start succession planning so you can step aside gracefully 25
  26. 26. Background Lessons for All Team Members Turbulence New PM Lessons• Communicate openly, listen carefully, speak candidly – At one point, PI/PM communication simply shut down • This communications breakdown was partly a matter of choice. • It was a poor choice! – Vast majority of communication is between peers, not superior/subordinate. Don’t build bottlenecks. Encourage open communication in all directions. • Insulating APIs from management issues was nice idea, but it wasn’t always possible to do that and still get job done – Strong documentation and records management helps here• Play nicely: always take the high road – Problem teammate? Don’t just talk ABOUT them… talk TO them. Person may want to fix problem but may not know how. – If you’ve got a “secret agenda” and it is jeopardizing the larger agenda in any way, then you’re part of the problem. 26
  27. 27. Background Closing Comments Turbulence New PM Lessons• Turbulence is becoming the norm. We will all have to deal with it. – Senior Management needs to Shield the team as much as possible – don’t request or allow busywork – Not easy to thumb nose at invalid “requirements”. It involves personal risk, but it is vital.• When turbulence is unavoidable, and the boat is being rocked, the team needs to be well trained, well integrated, and well led. – Leaders must share and champion the vision – Sustain team focus on REAL goal through all changes – Keep Communication channels open and honest – Keep expectations realistic, based on good intelligence about what really lies ahead 27
  28. 28. Background Other Comments? Turbulence New PM Lessons“Steady as she goes…We’ve got someplace we need to go.” 28
  29. 29. Acronyms• AA – associate administrator• API – associate principal investigator• APM – associate project manager• ARMD – aeronautics research mission director• CD – center director• FA – fundamental aeronautics (program)• FTE – full time equivalent (work year of a civil servant)• JPDO – joint planning and development office (charged to develop NGATS)• NGATS – next generation air traffic system• OJT – on the job training• PD – program director• PI – principal investigator• PM – project manager• PMC – project management challenge• POC – point of contact (typically between a NASA center and a program)• PS – project scientist• SFW – subsonic fixed wing• SOFIA – stratospheric observatory for infra-red astronomy• WYE – work year equivalent (work year of an on-site NASA contractor) 29

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