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How NASA Develops Project Management


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This presentation comes to you from International Project Management Day 2013 - the annual global virtual summit from IIL that brings together business and technology leaders from around the world to discuss the latest trends and methods in business, leadership and communications. To view the accompanying video keynotes and presentations connect to the event here or purchase the DVD collection

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How NASA Develops Project Management

  1. 1. How NASA Develops Excellence in International Project Management Dr. Ed Hoffman, NASA Chief Knowledge Officer
  2. 2. Case Study: Cassini-Huygens U.S. - European mission to explore Saturn NASA and Italian Space Agency: Cassini spacecraft European Space Agency: Huygens probe Launched October 1997 6.7 year voyage to Saturn $3.27 billion total cost to date
  3. 3. Cassini and Huygens Cassini Huygens Delivered Huygens probe to Titan Released by Cassini to land on surface of Saturn’s moon Titan Remained in orbit around Saturn for detailed studies of the planet, its rings and satellites (moons) Investigated characteristics of Titan’s atmosphere and surface Cassini Huygens Saturn Titan
  4. 4. The Complex Project Environment Complex Project-Based Organization Functional Organization Novel Routine New/invented Improved/more efficient Team Global, multidisciplinary Local, homogeneous Cost Life cycle Unit Schedule Project completion Productivity rate Customer Involved at inception Involved at point of sale Adaptation Control/stability Problems Technology Survival skill
  5. 5. Complexity and Risk DIMENSIONS Technical Organizational Strategic CHARACTERISTICS       Interfaces Technology development requirements Interdependencies among technologies      RISK  Technical Partners and suppliers Distributed/virtual team Decentralized authority Horizontal project organization Intensive learning needs Talent requirements  Social   Stakeholders Socio-political context Funding Geopolitical interests  Political
  6. 6. Technical Complexity: Zero Room for Error 1. Journey to Saturn included “gravity assists” (slingshot acceleration effects) from Venus, Earth and Jupiter – incredibly precise timing 2. Cassini orbiter would “insert” Huygens probe in orbit of Titan (one of Saturn’s moons) 3. Complex communications among Cassini, Huygens, Deep Space Network, and ground system
  7. 7. Organizational and Strategic Complexity Italian Space Agency Cassini high-gain antenna; radio subsystem equipment NASA Cassini orbiter; launch vehicle and associated integration & test ESA Huygens probe and associated communications equipment on Cassini orbiter International partnerships affect organizational and strategic complexity
  8. 8. Organizational Complexity 1. 260 scientists 2. 17 countries 3. 10 time zones 4. 18 scientific instruments (payloads) with Principal Investigators
  9. 9. Project Management Challenge All 18 payloads had reserves: 1. Cost ($ per fiscal year) 2. Mass (kg) 3. Power (watts) 4. Data rate to the spacecraft bus (kilobytes/second) Overruns would lead to de-scoping (i.e., instruments cut) Problem: How would you manage the reserves to increase the likelihood that all instruments would fly on the spacecraft?
  10. 10. Challenge Solved Solution: Electronic trading exchange for Principal Investigators to trade reserves in cost, mass, power, and data rate. 1. Governed by project management team (incl. veto power) 2. Created win-win incentive for all 3. Gave PIs ownership / assured buy-in
  11. 11. International Project Management Committee Operates as a committee of the International Astronautical Federation. Serves as forum for informal sharing of activities, plans, and challenges. Collaborative activities include: 1. International Project Management course hosted by NASA 2. Lessons learned workshops hosted by European Space Agency (ESA) 3. PM Challenge 2010-2012 4. NASA APPEL Masters Forums 5. Masters with Masters programs 6. Young professionals workshop
  12. 12. International Project Management (IPM) Course Originally offered by NASA, and substantially revised with IPMC participation 1. 10 sessions held with international partner participation 2. 9 nations and 16 organizations represented in latest session 3. Instructors from multiple countries / organizations 4. Topics include negotiations, international PM competencies, ethics, and perspectives from industry as well as government space agencies
  13. 13. Competencies for International Project Managers 1. Open-mindedness 2. Lifetime learning 3. Patience 4. Even disposition 5. Navigating ambiguity 6. Locus of control 7. Demonstrating creativity 8. Adapting socially 9. Instilling trust Exercises flexibility Remains cool under pressure Builds trusting relationships (adapted from Michael Tucker, Tucker Intl.)
  14. 14. Questions?
  15. 15. Intelligence – Integrity – Innovation We invite you to take a closer look at what we can accomplish together. Please visit or contact to learn more about our training, consulting, coaching, customized courses and other pathways for professional development. Connect with Us: @IILGlobal ©2013 International Institute for Learning, Inc., All rights reserved.