How NASA Builds Teams: Mission Critical Soft Skills for Scientists, Engineers, and Project Teams

Book description

Every successful organization needs high-performance teams to compete and succeed. Yet, technical people are often resistant to traditional "touchy-feely" teambuilding.

To improve communication, performance, and morale among NASA's technical teams, former NASA Astrophysicist Dr. Charlie Pellerin developed the teambuilding process described in "How NASA Builds Teams"—an approach that is proven, quantitative, and requires only a fraction of the time and resources of traditional training methods. This "4-D" process has boosted team performance in hundreds of NASA project teams, engineering teams, and management teams, including the people responsible for NASA's most complex systems — the Space Shuttle, space telescopes, robots on Mars, and the mission back to the moon. How NASA Builds Teams explains how the 4-D teambuilding process can be applied in any organization, and includes a fast, free on-line behavioral assessment to help your team and the individual members understand each other and measure the key driver of team performance, the social context.

Moreover, these simple, logical processes appeal strongly to technical teams who eschew "touchy-feely" training. Pellerin applies simple, elegant principles from his physics background to the art teambuilding, such as the use of a coordinate system to analyze the characteristics of team performance into actionable elements.

The author illustrates the teambuilding process with entertaining stories from his decade as NASA's Director for Astrophysics and subsequent 15 years of working closely with NASA and outside business teams. For example, he tells how the processes in the book enabled him to initiate the space mission to fix the Hubble Space Telescope's flawed mirror.

Free downloadable resources will help you:

  • Identify your teammates' innate personalities

  • Diagram your culture (And compare it to your customer's)

  • Measure the coherency of your project's paradigm (Get this wrong and you will be fired!) and

  • Learn to meet people's need to feel valued by you.

Further, you can download and use Pellerin's most powerful tool for influencing the outcome of any difficult situation: the Context Shifting Worksheet.

Note: The ebook version does not provide access to the companion files.

Table of contents

  1. Praise
  2. Title Page
  3. Copyright Page
  4. Dedication
  5. Acknowledgments
  6. Introduction
    1. The Vision—Moving Your Team’s Performance into the Top 20 Percent
    2. How This All Began
    3. NASA’s Bottom-Quintile Teams Improve
    4. Teambuilding for Technical Teams
    5. A Broader Perspective on Teambuilding
    6. An Application Summary for this Introduction
    1. CHAPTER 1 - Think You Can Ignore Context? Hubble’s Flawed Mirror Might Wake You Up
      1. Hubble Space Telescope—April 23, 1990
      2. However, Would the Telescope Work?
      3. Hubble Looks Good, So Off to Japan
      4. “Conscious Expectation of the Unexpected”—An Early Hubble Motto
      5. The Failure Review Board Found the Problem
      6. A Leadership Failure Caused the Flaw
      7. An Application Summary for Hubble Trouble
    2. CHAPTER 2 - Managing Social Context Manages Technical Performance
      1. The Power of Context
      2. The “AMBR” Process—How the Brain Works
      3. Unseen and Unmanaged Social Contexts
      4. Context Examples from Everyday Life
      5. Context Trumps Character
      6. A Brief Detour into the Concept of Story-Lines
      7. An Attribution Error
      8. An Application Summary for Context
      1. Coordinate Systems Simplify
      2. Organizing Teams and Leaders
      3. 4-D Organization of Leadership
      4. Let’s Pause and Review
      5. Validation—The 4-D System with Research
      6. A Limitation of Conventional Methods
      7. An Application Summary for 4-D Analysis
    1. CHAPTER 4 - The 4-D Assessment Process
      1. Potency of Team Assessments to Drive Behavioral Change
      2. Launching and Managing Your Team Development Assessment
      3. An Overview of the Eight Assessed Behaviors
      4. Assessment Reports—What They Look Like
      5. Debriefing Your Team
      6. What Progress Do Teams Experience?
      7. Individual Development Assessments
      8. What Progress Do Individuals Experience?
      9. Differences in Team and Individual Benchmarking Scales
      10. An Application Summary for Social Context
    2. CHAPTER 5 - NASA’s 4-D Teambuilding Results
      1. They Voted with Their Feet . . .
      2. ... Because They Realized Results
      3. Systemic Change in First Team Assessments
      4. Estimating a Systemic NASA ROI
      5. Do 4-D Behavior Assessments Measure Performance?
      6. Do NASA’s Teambuilding Processes Always Work?
      7. A Few Testimonials
      8. An Application Summary for NASA Results
      9. A Summary of the Role of Each 4-D Process
    1. Quit the BS and Pick Up the Chalk
    2. CHAPTER 6 - Using the 4-D System to Color Your Personalities
      1. Carl Jung and Innate Personality
      2. Two Ways to Decide
      3. About Your Personality Exploration
      4. Where Is Your Foundation?
      5. “Who’s on the Bus?”
      6. Application—The Project That Could Not Complete
      7. Never Use This Information to Limit
      8. The Green, Cultivating Personality’s Innate AMBR
      9. The Highly Effective (4-D) Pattern
      10. Gandhi Demonstrates 4-D Leadership
      11. The Effective Cultivating Leader
      12. The Yellow, Including Personality’s Innate AMBR
      13. The Blue, Visioning Personality’s Innate AMBR
      14. The Orange, Directing Personality’s Innate AMBR
      15. Innate Personalities Alter Our Perception
      16. Are You a Competent or Incompetent Manager?
      17. How to Join the Ranks of the Competent 30 Percent
      18. 4-D Employee Recruitment
      19. An Application Summary for Innate Personality
      20. Will You Stand Up?
    3. CHAPTER 7 - Using the 4-D System to Analyze Cultures
      1. Asch’s Experiment—Context Alters Perception
      2. The “Culture as a Field” Metaphor
      3. The Four Cultures
      4. The Blue Project Team That Could Not Complete
      5. Some Culture Inquiries
      6. Blue or Orange Culture Foundation
      7. Drawing Your Team’s Culture Diagram
      8. Green, Cultivating Cultures: Accommodate Members’ Values
      9. Yellow, Including Cultures: Accommodate Group Relational Needs
      10. Blue, Visioning Cultures: Accommodate Individual Experts’ Needs
      11. Orange, Directive Cultures: Accommodate Management’s Needs
      12. Give the Directing Culture What It Craves
      13. Building Orange from the Bottom Up
      14. Supporting Vital Subcultures
      15. 4-D Organization of Proposals
      16. Matching Proposal Team Culture to Customer
      17. Cultures Must Change as Projects Mature
      18. How Hubble Launched with a Flawed Mirror
      19. An Application Summary for Cultures
    4. CHAPTER 8 - Incoherent Project Mindset Colors? Update Your Resume
      1. Basic Project Management
      2. Project Mindsets Drive Project Structure
      3. The Blue Performance Mindset
      4. The Orange Cost/Schedule Mindset
      5. Consequences of a Confused/Wrong Mindset
      6. Incoherent Mindsets Risk a Large Space Program
      7. Incoherency Incites Drama
      8. An Application Summary for Project Mindsets
    1. CHAPTER 9 - The Context Shifting Worksheet (CSW)
      1. CSW—A Proposal Team Prepares for Orals
      2. Recovering $3 Million of Denied Fee
      3. Applying the CSW to Your Situations
    2. CHAPTER 10 - Red Story-Lines Limit Team Performance
      1. What Matters for Leadership Effectiveness
      2. He Just Could Not Delegate
      3. 4-D Organization of Mindset
      4. How Powerful are Words?
      5. Story-Lines and Truth
      6. Managing Your Story-Lines with AMBR
      7. Story-Lines Can Drive Industries to Success or Ruin
      8. Choosing Story-Lines
      9. Troublesome Story-Lines in Technical Teams
      10. A Team/Organization Story-Line Exercise
      11. Story-Line Shifting Saves the Project
      12. Animals Run Story-Lines, Too
      13. Avoid Argument with the Indisputable Truth
      14. The Difficult Workshop Participant
      15. An Application Summary for Story-Lines
      16. A Team Activity
    3. CHAPTER 11 - Manage Your Emotions to Manage Your Team’s Energy
      1. Emotional Intelligence Is More Important
      2. Naming Emotions So You Can Manage Them
      3. Manage Your Team’s Emotional State
      4. Time and Our Culture
      5. Expand Your Experience of Time
      6. Costs of Using Busyness to Avoid Feelings
      7. Practice Experiencing Your Emotions
      8. An Application Summary for Expressing Emotions
      9. Closing the “Attitude is Thoughts and Emotions” Segment
    4. CHAPTER 12 - People Need to Feel Appreciated by You
      1. What Is Most Important to People?
      2. Attention: What Do People Most Want at Work?
      3. How about Money?
      4. Whose Needs Are You Meeting?
      5. Gratitude’s Mindset Provides Authenticity
      6. Living in Gratitude
      7. Habitual Appreciation Enhances Longevity
      8. Mastery through “HAPPS” Appreciation
      9. Exercising Appreciation Muscles
      10. Learn from 9/11—Do It Now!
      11. Story-Line and Emotion Synergy
      12. Excess Criticism Tips Teams into Death Spirals
      13. Appreciation Tips Teams Back to High Performance
      14. When is Replacing the Leadership the Only Option?
      15. Abundance Mindset
      16. An Application Summary for Expressing Appreciation
    5. CHAPTER 13 - Mine the Gold in Your Shared Interests
      1. Using Shared Values to Defuse Power Struggles
      2. Shared Interests with Japanese Scientists
      3. Shared Interests and the Hubble Hire
      4. An Application Summary for Shared Interests
    6. CHAPTER 14 - People Need to Feel Included by You
      1. Personas and Authenticity
      2. A Troubled University President
      3. The Great Santini
      4. Interviewing Your Mask (Persona)
      5. What’s Next-Most Important to People
      6. The Inclusion Mindset
      7. First, Do No Harm
      8. Listen Deeply
      9. Be Sensitive to Inclusion Manners
      10. Include Others by Sharing Something Personal
      11. Make It Easy for Others to Include You
      12. Recovering a Troubled Project
      13. Over-Inclusion—Too Many E-Mails?
      14. A Possible Team Meetings Agreement
      15. The Project Manager’s “Truth Translation Table”
      16. An Application Summary for Including Others
    7. CHAPTER 15 - Building Trustworthy Contexts
      1. Your Agreements Management Habits
      2. Costs of a Late-to-Meetings-Is-Okay Mindset
      3. Processing Broken Agreements
      4. An Application Summary for Building Trustworthy Contexts
    8. CHAPTER 16 - Creating the Future You Want
      1. Visioning What You Want
      2. Reality-Based Optimism (Hope)
      3. Reality and Truth as Platforms for Creativity
      4. Using the Truth to Raise Hope
      5. The Great Observatories: Problem Solving versus Creativity
      6. Project Overruns: Problem Solving versus Creativity
      7. Creating the Project You Want
      8. Outcome Commitment
      9. Outcome Commitment and the Hubble Servicing Mission
      10. Outcome Commitment and My Wife
      11. Which Outcomes Are You Committed to Achieving?
      12. The Commitment Scale
      13. My (Charlie’s) Commitments
      14. What Are Your Commitments?
      15. The Mindset of a Purposeful Life
      16. You May Have Less Time Than You Think
      17. Carpe Diem
      18. Marketing, Selling, and President Reagan
      19. An Application Summary for Creating What You Want
    9. CHAPTER 17 - Your Team Can’t Afford Drama
      1. Mounting the Stage—Performing Your Melodrama
      2. Ineffective Emotional Management ➔ Drama States
      3. Let’s Complain
      4. Who Is Responsible for the Complaints?
      5. Turning Complaints into 4-D Requests
      6. The Victim Mindset
      7. Escaping the Victim Mindset
      8. Discovering and Exiting Victim
      9. The Blamer—Victim/Rescuer Dance
      10. The Blamer-Victim/Rescuer Dance in the Workplace
      11. Self-detection of Drama States
      12. The Life-habituated Victim
      13. Is This the Hill You Want to Die On
      14. The Blamer Mindset
      15. Escaping the Blamer Mindset
      16. The Find-Your-Role Two-Step
      17. The Hero/Rescuer Mindset
      18. Escaping the Hero/Rescuer Mindset
      19. The Rationalizer Mindset
      20. A Rationalizer Example
      21. Truth-Withholding Incites Melodrama
      22. Truth-Withholding Story-Lines
      23. Dakota Tribal Wisdom
      24. An Application Summary for Drama Your Team Cannot Afford
    10. CHAPTER 18 - Don’t Put Good People in Bad Places
      1. RAAs in 4-D Assessments
      2. Accountability
      3. RAAs—Basic Requirements
      4. Processes with Owners
      5. Do Not Put Good People in Bad Places
      6. The Seven Deadly Sins of Teams
      7. An Application Summary for Don’t Put Good People in Bad Places
  13. INDEX

Product information

  • Title: How NASA Builds Teams: Mission Critical Soft Skills for Scientists, Engineers, and Project Teams
  • Author(s): Charles J. Pellerin
  • Release date: July 2009
  • Publisher(s): Wiley
  • ISBN: 9780470456484