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ASK OCE — February 23, 2007 — Vol. 2, Issue 2

As the Constellation program moves into high gear, the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate (ESMD) is taking steps to integrate risk and knowledge management through an approach that emphasizes real-time learning as a continuous process.

Given that the design and development of the hardware, software, ground and space-based assets required for human spaceflight to the Moon and then Mars will take decades to complete, a “learn-as-you-go” approach is essential is to optimize the finite resources that will be available for these complex tasks. The multi-phase exploration agenda as currently articulated will have several project lifecycles more than the Apollo program, which creates opportunities for a long-duration integrated learning process.

In looking at how ESMD could best integrate lessons learned, ESMD Risk and Knowledge Management Officer Dave Lengyel examined NASA’s past experience with lessons learned, or “lessons learned about lessons learned.” He found that the number of useful lessons learned in the NASA Lessons Learned Information System (LLIS) database was quite limited, with the good ones obscured by hundreds of poor ones, which necessitated extensive sorting efforts. He also concluded that the most effective and least burdensome way to ensure the integration of lessons learned was to incorporate them directly into requirements, processes, plans, and handbooks since project teams already use these documents as part of their standard working procedure.

Lengyel worked with Goddard Space Flight Center Knowledge Management Architect Dr. Ed Rogers to identify five practices for effectively integrating knowledge and lessons learned:

  1. Pause and Learn (PAL) Processes. The PAL concept is modeled after the Army’s After Action Review (AAR) system. Rather than waiting until project closure to capture reflections, PAL meetings are integrated into the project lifecycle at key points as a natural part of the process.
  2. Knowledge-Based Risks (KBRs). Knowledge-based risks are risks that either 1) have been identified as a result of lessons learned, or 2) have been closed and then documented as lessons learned.
  3. Communities of Practice (CoP). Communities of practice connect people facing similar issues or problems across an organization or professional discipline.
  4. Knowledge Sharing Forums. Knowledge sharing forums offer opportunities for sharing stories and reflecting on best practices and lessons learned in a setting outside the project team.
  5. Experienced-Based Training. Formal training courses can convey lessons learned in a classroom setting through case studies that encourage rigorous group discussion of difficult scenarios and decisions.

Read Dr. Ed Rogers’s white paper about Pause and Learn Processes. (PDF)

Learn more about Communities of Practice.

Learn more about APPEL Knowledge Sharing forums.

Learn more about APPEL courses that incorporate experience-based training.

In This Issue

Message from the Chief Engineer

NASA on the Hill: Marburger Testifies on R&D Budget

This Week in NASA History: Discoverer 1

PM Challenge Executive Leadership Roundup

What’s Ahead for Project Management: A Roundtable Discussion with PMI

22nd Annual George M. Low Awards: Presented at PM Challenge 2007

Integrating Risk and Knowledge Management in ESMD

Hugh Woodward on Surprising Keys to Project Success

What’s the Situation?

Let’s Talk Risk Management

APPEL Masters Forum: Call for Nominees and Speakers

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