NASA PM Challenge – Day 1

After inspecting the facilities yesterday evening I am now looking forward how the venue presents itself and will accommodate more than 950 attendees mostly from NASA and some institutions and companies contracted by NASA. A networking event that will be held the last time for the time being due to budget challenges and going into other networking event options.

The huge ballroom is filling just prior to the keynotes to be held this morning. Almost every seat is taken.

If have planned to attend the Key Notes (shorter than the ones that you might be familiar with) and 6 sessions / speaker opportunities throughout the day including mine. Here is the schedule for today. And for some I will have a more detailed coverage depending on how interesting and new the topics are to me.

  1. Key Notes
  2. Principles of Project Success at NASA
  3. Meeting the Challenges of the Future Now, Lesa Roe
  4. 5 Keys to Successful Project Management, Wayne Brantley
  5. How to learn from other peoples mistakes, Ed Rodgers
  6. New Platform, KSC (Kennedy Space Center) Repurpose

So what am I taking out of the first day.

  1. May be the last NASA PM Conference that is being organized due to funding issues and other reasons
  2. Project Management Topics in context of Space and Engineering with the aura of the NASA are inspiring
  3. Project Management is Project Management is Project Management and nobody is cooking with gas :-)
  4. When we think our projects are complex try to manage one with 2 Million separate systems (eg. Apollo Program)
  5. For good speakers, Story Telling is key. Most of the good speakers tells stories at the beginning and during their speech, stories that have a meaning and that are getting the speakers message across.
  6. Florida is a nice place to hold a conference

So lets look at the keynotes themselves: 3 Speakers at the beginning and the key messages I took away from them

The first one to talk, a Top Shot at NASA, gives an advice that everybody should think about by reflecting what has changed in his view at conferences. People are looking at their computer, blackberry and smartphones instead listening to and looking at the speaker. His advice is, by referring to Ferries Buler (Ferris macht blau), Life is moving fast, if you not look up, you might miss it. So look up, look around, speak to people that you have not planned to speak to, go into a presentation that you have not planned to go to. I will take this into account for my first day and will attend sessions that I have not planned for. Beside that he commenting on his leadership principles that are three fold:

Passion, Energy and a little bit of humor

Then Andy Chaikin is taking the stage, a famous author (Man on the Moon), I am sure that some of you have read some books from him. His recent publication is ‘Voices from the Moon’ where he interviewed the astronauts that went out to the long journey to the moon.

His key message is elaborating on the fact that NASAs objectives are changing and the meaning might or will be different in the future.

They (NASA) went to Space, went to the Moon and built a Space Station (ISS), how ever as the money runs out and available budgets become tighter the meaning of NASA might and will have to be different in the future.

He talks about that every individual has ‘to be part of meaningful narrative’. And by making an impossible dream come true you can’t go back to business as usual (looking at the Apollo Mission, an endeavor that at that point in time nobody thought would be possible.

So looking at the cost situation at NASA, by giving examples like, the shuttle was designed to cost (only half of the required budget of 10 Billion Dollars were granted) and by giving an example that NASA has to change as the are currently perceived as the ‘The self licking ice cone’ to focus on changing the cost side of the cost benefit equation.

To be able to see the Moon and Earth like ‘Messenger’ did when flying to Mars, without achieving these goals the people at NASA will not have a meaningful narrative to go beyond what they already have achieved.

facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmailfacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Torsten J. Koerting

Torsten J. Koerting is a project management-, paragliding- and Outdoor Enthusiast, Consultant, Author of several books and engaged as a speaker at many conferences. As Managing Partner at projectyzer he is specialised in supporting companies and organisations in reinventing their strategy as well as turning projects around that are in trouble. He worked in Europe, US and Australia for more than 20 years for global Blue Chips. He does hold the German and Australian Citizenship and lives with his wife and two kids between Europe and Australia. He is also a certified Bank Clerk, Executive Bachelor and Project Management Professional (PMI) and used to be Board Member of the PMI Queensland Chapter (Australia).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *