NASA’s lessons in knowledge and project management are presented through their exploration of ‘The Smart Mission’.


In the recently released book, “The Smart Mission,” written by Edward J. Hoffman, Matthew Kohut, and Laurence Prusak, the authors delve into NASA’s lessons for managing knowledge, people, and projects. As the first Chief Knowledge Officer at NASA, Hoffman brings his expertise to the table, while Kohut and Prusak contribute with their experience in communication and strategy consulting for the space agency.

NASA, a federal government agency responsible for space and aeronautics research, has a budget of approximately US$25 billion and around 18,000 employees. The authors emphasize that NASA has been scarred by two major tragedies – the Challenger explosion in 1986 and the Columbia space shuttle disaster in 2003. These incidents led to a thorough review of NASA’s processes, procedures, and culture.

The book highlights the importance of a culture that encourages open communication and speaks against the “command and control” approach. Particularly strong in the book is the authors’ exploration of knowledge transfer within an organization and improving training methods. They argue that storytelling and team interaction are effective ways to transfer knowledge, while institutional libraries and training by PowerPoint are inadequate methods.

While the authors touch on successful organizations like Google and Netflix, it would have been interesting to see more discussion on disrupters in the private sector, such as Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and numerous space startups. These disrupters have brought game-changing advancements to the industry, like reusable rockets and the integration of reliable consumer electronics components. NASA is increasingly recognizing and supporting the use of 3D printing technologies employed by these disrupters.

Moreover, companies utilizing 3D printing can benefit from the Research and Development (R&D) Tax Credit, a permanent tax credit available for companies developing new or improved products, processes, and software. Technical employees involved in creating, testing, and revising 3D printed prototypes can include their wages as a percentage of eligible time for the R&D Tax Credit. Additionally, integrating 3D printing hardware and software or using it for modeling and preproduction can count as eligible activities. The expenses for filaments used during development can also be recovered. Implementing 3D printing technology is a strong indicator of R&D Credit eligible activities, and companies should consider taking advantage of this opportunity.

The book serves as a valuable resource, highlighting the need to study and understand tragic events like the Challenger and Columbia disasters in order to prevent similar accidents in the future. By learning from these incidents, we can work towards minimizing risks in inherently dangerous activities like test piloting and Formula One racing. The hope is to continually improve and reduce the likelihood of future occurrences.

Original source


“Why did the 3D printer go to therapy? Because it had too many layers of unresolved issues!”

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