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43 a website. In response to specific program failures, NASA Providing incentives to encourage collection and lesson has developed KM as a formal business strategy. They have sharing such as links to performance evaluations and created a KM team, and conduct projects in selected centers. awards; and A system of rewarding scientists whose knowledge is used Enhancing the LLIS by coding information, develop- by others was instituted. Investments have been made in IT. ing an easier search capability, including more posi- One project is an agency-wide web portal to bring together tive lessons, soliciting user input on an ongoing basis, NASAs online resources (pp. 135). and tracking effectiveness using performance metrics (pp. 44 45). The GAO report goes on to point to two underlying limi- tations to NASA's ability to share lessons learned; cultural Today, one can visit the NASA KM website and see, even resistance to sharing knowledge and the lack of an effective by viewing just the "public" segment, the progress made. The strategic framework and management attention for overcom- LLIS is indeed codified on the public access site by topic, ing such resistance. NASA had a strategic plan, but not a year, center, and mission directorates (see http://www.km. business plan. The report specified that such a plan, at a min- nasa.gov/home/index.html). Indeed, the website itself pro- imum, should address the following: vides a wealth of KM ideas. Roles and responsibilities; According to the NASA website: Knowledge needs and how they relate to the business processes; [K]nowledge management is getting the right information to the Role of IT; right people at the right time, and helping people create knowl- edge and share and act upon information in ways that will mea- Timetable for implementing KM; surably improve the performance of NASA and its partners. For Resources needed for implementing a knowledge NASA this means delivering the systems and services that will strategy; help our employees and partners get the information they need Cultural barriers to learning; and to make better decisions (April 16, 2006). Metrics needed for tracking and measuring results and training (p. 37). To summarize, there are three key priority areas for KM at NASA: The GAO report emphasized that many program and proj- ect managers believed senior management support was lack- Sustain NASA's knowledge across missions and ing. NASA had not established a central management func- generations. tion to coordinate and direct its lessons learning processes and Identify and capture the information that exists within systems. NASA investment in LLIS was minimal. Respon- NASA. dents complained that there was inadequate time for sharing Help people find, organize, and share the knowledge lessons learned, an additional burden. Most knowledge is NASA already has. shared on an informal basis, which, although important, is not necessarily the most efficient way, because it does not allow Elsewhere on the site, the stated goal of the KM team is to the information to be further disseminated or validated. increase collaboration, facilitate knowledge creation and shar- ing, and develop techniques and tools to enable teams and com- The report provided examples of more formal communi- munities to collaborate across the barriers of time and space. ties of practice as organized by other organizations studied. Thus, NASA, not unlike the World Bank, is actively seeking to It described incentives for knowledge sharing, and stressed integrate technology, knowledge creation and sharing, and doc- that information needs to be trusted to be useful. It also umentation and capturing to further strategic use of knowledge described the pitfall of assuming that a database will auto- within the agency. matically lead to knowledge sharing. It contended that well- designed information systems and databases are important, The Strategic Plan for Knowledge Management, available especially for organizations with employees located at mul- on the NASA KM website, is an excellent overview of the tiple centers (pp. 3843). KM business process. NASA has also expressed its KM vision in graphic style in the 25-year Roadmap, also available on the Finally, the report recommended: website. Using push technology, such as e-mail alerts; INTERVIEW WITH NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND Dedicating gatekeepers to manage and monitor SPACE ADMINISTRATION KNOWLEDGE knowledge-sharing databases to keep the information MANAGEMENT OFFICER up-to-date and relevant; Establishing technical linkages among the various center- Jeanne M. Holm, Chair of the NASA Knowledge Manage- and program-level lessons learning systems; ment Team, was interviewed on April 21, 2006. According Improving mentoring and storytelling mechanisms; to Ms. Holm, NASA become involved with KM in about

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44 2000, more or less during the same time frame as the GAO based on total skills sets, not just those that happen to be in audit discussed earlier. NASA formed a central unit that use in a current position. investigated needs from operations groups and discovered from their investigation that the biggest frustration was the The second program on the horizon is on the HR side of inability to access documents. Therefore, they focused first KM. This program is aimed at finding skilled individuals, on document management, before focusing on tacit knowl- especially as identified by their peers. They are finding, in pilot edge. However, along with document management, they did programs, that indirect approaches work better than direct change the rewards systems, in which, to get specific presti- ones. For example, one pilot project is working with HR to find gious rewards, certain HR-oriented KM practices had to be what knowledge artifacts people leave behind when they present. For example, an individual had to have a history of leave. Another asks people to react to, for example, a set of mentoring to get a specific award. This got management vis- engineering standards, and then to identify which ones need ibility as well. They worked to integrate their lessons learned revising and who might be the best person to do that. Still efforts into their training department. They brought lessons another seeks to determine who is most similar to someone learned into the policies and procedures process, which else. For example, if an individual is off on another project or reached broadly across the agency. The KM group worked is otherwise unavailable, who might be best qualified to take with printers, web masters, TV producers, etc., to pull together her or his place? They are working with this type of social net- NASA communications into a "One NASA" approach to work analysis to try to improve and speed the process by send a congruent, consistent message to all stakeholders. The which new projects are staffed, setting up teams with the right group developed IT-based resources, which have now been skills mix. Another social network analysis approach is to look turned over to the office of the chief information officer. at an individual within different systems. For example, the financial system reveals who charged to what projects, the HR NASA has developed COPs, and there are two formal system reveals degrees or prior responsibilities, and so on. roles associated with these COPs. The first is the champion, Then, the KM team puts together all the data in a new way to who is the recognized expert, known as the Technical Fel- get a more complete profile of the individual. low. They work with the Engineering Excellence unit to identify who would make a good Technical Fellow, based on Ms. Holm stressed that as each KM project is launched, it peer recognition of being a top expert with good human inter- is passed off to another group to actually manage. Sometimes action skills, service on technical committees, etc. The posi- the original project intent changes somewhat--sometimes tion is associated with a promotion, and is a job of consider- projects wither, sometimes they grow. Her own group acts as able responsibility. The Fellow needs to play a broad role, a consultant within the agency, coming up with new projects facilitating the whole end-to-end collaboration of the COP. and new ideas, in an entrepreneurial fashion, and then spin- The second formal role is that of facilitator. This individual ning them off as appropriate. They do not seek to manage supports the Technical Fellow, and plays a similar role to the KM processes once they have become institutionalized. They KM sector officers at the World Bank, as described previously. seek to find opportunities where someone wants a change, This program has been up and running since November 2005, and sometimes the KM group is the right fit to help create so it is recent; however, so far it appears to be doing well. new possibilities to implement the change. They can be espe- cially helpful as groups seek to capture, manage, distribute, Two programs are on the NASA KM horizon. The first is and learn knowledge. The KM group does not have a large working with universities on open-source software to create budget, but is a catalyst for KM development across the and support web technologies, especially in very fast data agency. The overall goal is driving to decision tools. Cultural analysis, and in the fast, accurate pinpointing of expertise change and acceptance came with a "One NASA" initiative within the agency. The latter is important to increase the from the top NASA executive. Ms. Holm stressed the need capacity to form teams quickly for new projects, whether for support and energy from the top level of management for permanent or temporary, and to rapidly deploy individuals success to occur.