Internal Communication Issues at NASA

NASA Strategic Management Council Meeting Minutes and Actions
Date: 16 May 2006 Time: 8:00 a.m. 4:55 p.m. (PDT) Location: Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Building 167 conference room

Second Item of Business: Agency Strategy Discussion. Griffin opened the floor for discussion:

- Communications: Horowitz raised the issue of too much reliance by Agency leaders on email communication and not enough face-to-face interaction. Members voiced several strategies for dealing with the huge volume of email. General discussion raised the following points:

  • Email is good as a means to exchange information but should not be used for communicating direction downward or appealing decisions upward. Those communications should make use of formal processes that flow through the chain-of-command.
  • Skipping the chain-of-command (e.g., flowing appeals from bottom to top bypassing middle management) hinders the development of good middle managers and the identification of weak ones.
  • Griffin gets compliments on his senior leadership team, but complaints that his middle managers are not on board.
  • Griffin expects NASA headquarters to be smaller and staffed with experienced experts.
  • Council meetings where the Agency's senior leaders consider issues and make decisions, supported by formal agendas and with documented decisions and minutes, are useful but not sufficient to meet senior leaders' communications needs.
  • The weekly ViTS is good as a means of sharing Agency status information but not for discussing issues of concern for a particular mission or center. The ViTS (video teleconference) is an awkward medium. Members prefer a teleconference.
  • Members believe more face-to-face communication with each other and with senior leadership would be beneficial.
SMC Decision: Future SMC meeting arrangements will include time set aside for unstructured meetings. (For the upcoming SMC and PMC meetings taking place June 15th at the Kennedy Space Center, the afternoon of June 14th will be set aside for unstructured meetings between council members.)

SMC Decision: Griffin, Dale, Geveden, and Chief of Staff Paul Morrell will meet face- to-face or via teleconference for one-half hour once a month with individual center directors to see if this added channel of communication helps address center-specific issues and concerns.

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on October 8, 2006 9:23 AM.

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