NASA’s 4-D Teambuilding Results
The weather was miserable on what we now refer to as “that rainy day at Wallops.” (Wallops Flight Facility is a small NASA facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.) I was talking with Dr. Ed Hoffman, director of the NASA APPEL (Academy for Program/Project and Engineering Leadership). NASA formed APPEL after the Challenger disaster to prevent future space accidents. Ed asked me to undertake a pilot project—to see if I could get NASA’s busy project managers to use the 4-D System’s process of assessments, workshops, coaching, and reassessments.
Would NASA project managers trust me enough to undertake this work? At the time, the data were sparse, and I had left NASA eight years ago. It helped that I had a distinguished career at NASA. Most important, perhaps, I had a reputation for being competent, tough, and fair—people generally liked me.
With Ed’s support, I began work. I met with NASA top management at two centers that had managed many of my programs. One was the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and the other was the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. I described our 4-D processes and explained how they would enhance the performance of project teams. We insisted that management put no pressure on any project to participate. Further, while we would report project participation activity, they could only get assessment results directly from the teams. We began work with their highest-priority projects. Early ...