KM in NASA’s Exploration Directorate

Thursday, August 6th, 2009
Steve Newman, ARES Corporation is sharing his experience with KM in NASA’s Exploration Directorate.

Steve works for NASA Exploration directorate as a contractor in KM area. ARES is responsible for developing NASA’s Process Based Mission Assurance (PBMA) site – which is one of the knowledge repositories that I have seen.

Steve’s current work is with the Exploration directorate, which is responsible for the Orion Program, which is designed to take men back to the moon and ultimately to Mars.

Steve’s Lessons learned from NASA regarding KM

  • At NASA never say “I’m here to help you with KM” instead – it’s “I’m here to accomplish work” Work is the central theme – technology is just an enabler.
  • KM initiatives that have succeeded are those that have been sponsored by a business leader
  • There has to be a personal return on investment. It has to help me do my work more effectively.

KM success cases:

  • Got 2003 govt pioneer award for creating PBMA. The case is that KM was paired with a critical business process. In NASA case it was paired mission safety – and the NASA site for Process Based Mission Assurance (PBMA) was created.
  • Risk and mission assurance. Today the head of risk and mission assurance also heads KM - the two are paired in NASA’s mission directorate.
Lesson – for KM to be successful – pair it with a critical business need.

It’s vital to link with key stakeholders…

The dark side of KM

  • Number one problem people have is time. If it adds time it won’t get done…
  • Fragmented web presence….group was required to have multiple portlets, wikis, CoP’s – but all people wanted to do was work… What are the things that really help people do work….
Top Ten lessons to date regarding implementing KM at NASA
  • Maintain focus on work
  • link km with a critical business process
  • Use risk as a cueing function to ensure you are strategically aligned
  • emphasize leaning through conversation
  • Respect peoples time – Km has to save people time
  • Use network of risk managers to push / pull knowledge
  • Maximize existing tool functionality
  • Recognize that collaboration is a resource mgr
  • Never forget number 1

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