NASA has learned many lessons about working with international partners during the International Space Station (ISS) Program. Multiple partners with various contracts, working styles, cultural diversity and histories create a unique working environment with complex collaboration. Communication and rapport with the various partners are important for establishing an understanding that all partners are working toward the same overarching goal of mission success.
Mark Geyer, who worked on the Space Station Integration Team and also led the Mission Management Team for Space Station Operations for nine months, makes key points in the video about how the ISS experience taught valuable lessons for international partnerships going forward. Geyer stresses that integration and deals made with partners might be complex, but notes that complexity may be a necessity to making the mission a success.
International partners challenge you to examine, understand and justify the reasons for following your own processes if they have not been using the same methods themselves.
Developing rapport and good relationships with all partners is important for being able to communicate and convince them of why NASA needs to do certain things a specific way.
Build understanding with your partners that you are concerned with the success of the overall program.
Each international partner has a different style and constraints that must be understood for cooperation on the program to be successful.
Complex deals and negotiations may be necessary due to working with many different partners and managing budgetary and other constraints.
ISS budgetary constraints led to development of complex deals with partners that had capabilities needed for the program’s success. It is important to figure out how to manage deals and trades because they will help to mitigate risks to the overall mission.
APPEL Course: International Project Management