Process Owner Memo to Officials-in-Charge and Center Directors
March 31, 1997
TO: Officials-in-Charge of Headquarters
FROM: F/Associate Administrator for Human Resources and Education
SUBJECT: The Communicate Knowledge Process
Recently I was named the process owner for the Communicate Knowledge (CK) crosscutting process, relieving Alan Ladwig who has been assigned as the process owner for the Strategic Management Process. At the March 11, 1997, NASA Senior Management Strategic Planning Retreat, I presented my approach to fulfilling this new role. We clearly need to capitalize on the previous efforts in CK headed first by France Cordova and Alan in which many NASA employees participated, including myself. During my presentation at the retreat, my role was further clarified by the group that I was the owner of the effort to improve the various processes by which we communicate knowledge and steward of the CK process itself. The former role is what I am launching with this letter. In the latter role, I will continually monitor the CK process across the Agency, disseminating new and better ideas as they come to light. I will also initiate follow-on improvement efforts as appropriate. The "foot stomper" is that I am not responsible for communicating knowledge per se nor do I serve in a controlling position over those managers who are responsible for program execution.
It was also clarified at this meeting that Alan was retaining part of the responsibility previously under the CK heading. He will retain that part which I am calling the message. This is the common set of themes, goals, projects, examples, etc. which will be available to every NASA employee for communicating with internal as well as external entities. The current thought is that the message will be available from the NASA home page with hyper-text links to other official home pages for more detail as desired. The Office of Public Affairs would be assigned the responsibility to keep the message current; comparable to a Speakers Bureau task. Therefore, the knowledge that I will be referencing henceforth is that knowledge that is obtained through a NASA research effort. This effort could be an internal laboratory experiment, results from a grant, an aircraft flight program, a space flight program, etc. The knowledge could be in the form of a report, raw data, imagery, formulae, material, technology, etc. In other words, whatever form our customer base of Government, education, industry, science, public, etc. entities find most accessible and useful. The above definitions are a starting point. We may very well discover that they are too broad to handle productively. For example, technology transfer may or may not be an applicable category of knowledge communication.
Starting next month, I intend to launch the process improvement with the formation of a team of about 1525 NASA employees. I want this to be a diverse team. I am expanding the accepted definition of diverse to include broad Center representation, all applicable disciplines and a grade spread. I would like each addressee to consider nominating individuals for this team. After I make the selection, I will convene a planning meeting here at Headquarters to establish the rules of engagement and schedule. We will also establish a set of metrics for the conduct of the process improvement task. My current thought is that the team would develop a list of questions to ask NASA project/program managers concerning the way they currently determine their communicate knowledge requirements and delivery methods. I would ask the Strategic Enterprises to recommend a cross section of research efforts for the team to survey. The survey results would not specifically identify any of the research efforts surveyed, be they exemplary or otherwise. What would be produced is a handbook of best practices and some templates for NASA managers to use as a reference when developing a new research effort. With this handbook would be a preliminary set of metrics for the CK process. I estimate that this process improvement effort will take six months of near full-time participation of 15 team members but could be done on more of a part-time basis if I get a larger number of nominations. There is likely to be some travel required to go to the Centers to conduct the surveys. In some cases, travel may be to the customer community to ascertain their satisfaction.
As you can see, my plans are rather tentative at this point. I do intend to get started very soon and produce a product that will be of use to NASA managers. I request that each addressee consider nominating one or more individuals to participate on my team. The experience should be useful to the individuals and they would undoubtedly be ideal candidates for the Integrated Communications Teams (ICT) that will be formed in the future to serve as on-call support to program managers. Request you send/call in your nominees by April 8, 1997. Thank you.
Spence M. Armstrong