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June 30, 2009 Vol. 2, Issue 6


Communication, action, and reflection were common themes among a diverse panel of experts at the Academy’s Project Leadership Forum.

The Academy, in partnership with the Center for Project Leadership at Columbia University, hosted a forum entitled “Project Leadership: Project Success Requires Leadership and Management,” on June 26, 2009 at NASA Headquarters. Speakers included Acting NASA Administrator Chris Scolese; Dr. Alex Laufer of Columbia University; Terry Little, former program manager from the Department of Defense; Alistair Cockburn, one of the founders of the agile approach to project management; and Academy Director Dr. Ed Hoffman.

Drawing on his academic research based on more than 150 case studies, Dr. Laufer cited seven factors as keys to successful project management in a dynamic environment: people; learning (and unlearning); adaptive capacity; courage; judgment, trust, and an action orientation. Mr. Little reinforced Dr. Laufer’s point about action. “A leader has a bias for action,” he said, noting later that, “patience is not a noble virtue when dealing with disruptive influences.”

Mr. Cockburn emphasized osmotic communication — the communication that happens by osmosis among team members collocated in a space with no physical barriers. He also spoke about measuring the quality of a team’s ability to focus on the task at hand. “Count how many times people are interrupted each day,” he said. “Progress goes down.”

Read the forum’s agenda and learn more about the speakers.

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