to greatness is along with others."
Some things at NASA were simpler years ago. In project
terms, the "team" meant the NASA civil service team. Now
the NASA project team is sometimes only a few civil service
members, supplemented by a far larger contractor workforce.
In fact, under the era of smaller is better, the project
team includes multiple industry players, international
partners, several NASA centers and university-led missions.
You really have to keep a scorecard to know all the players.
-- Baltasar Gracian, Oracular Manual
This evolution has caught all of us by surprise. Just
the other night, I was talking with a NASA project management
class about the things we must do to increase the likelihood
of mission success. Then the realization came booming
down, every one in the classroom was a NASA civil servant
(along with several participants from other government
agencies), which is typically only about 10% of a project
team. Sadly, the other people who make up the team were
Perhaps you think this is simply a training problem.
Alas, based on my experience, it's just as knotty an
issue in other parts of the program world.
Our Agency policy and guidelines document for the
management of programs and projects (7120.5a) was written
to improve the management of our programs. However,
the document addresses only that part of the workforce
who are NASA-badged. How much impact can it have on
a project when 90% of the team is not the intended audience?
To me it is clear that the time has come to consider
redefining who the WE are on a project team. Let the
WE be consistent with what we all know that it connotes.
Perhaps the agents of change who have promoted the present
environment can assist us by rethinking the stupid policies
and regulations that make partnering so difficult. (How
many of you have noticed the number of rules that make
working across organizational lines so frustrating?)
Reading through the stories in this issue, I am comforted
by the fact that there are outstanding project leaders
and team members within NASA who are successfully dealing
with the de facto WE of a project team. Clearly, in
these examples the project leader has embraced the role
of partnering and sought commonsense and creative ways
to work together effectively. The starting point seems
to be acknowledging the new nature of working with others
-- understanding who WE are -- and then moving from
there to form a great team.