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A project manager needs to adapt to changing circumstances that arise during their project. The project manager needs to remain focused on the project requirements and not be fixated on the design or implementation path.

Ralph Basilio is a Program Manager at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory  and the project manager for the Orbiting Carbon Observatory 2 and 3. In this video clip, Basilio talks about the importance of project managers being flexible.

Video key learning points:

  1. 1.

    A project team needs to be able to quickly adapt to a new project environment such as a change in launch vehicles or even a canceled project.

  2. 2.

    The right people are the most important asset for a project’s success. A good team will have a strong commitment to a project, which helps to deal with changes and unforeseen circumstances that come up during a project.

  3. 3.

    A project manager should instill a sense of ownership of not just the project but the overall mission into the project team members. This feeling of ownership builds more commitment from the team by providing them understanding about the importance of their work for mission success.

  4. 4.

    A project manager should always be focused on the project requirements. A strong engineering design mindset can be a weakness to a project manager and keep them married to a specific design or implementation process. A flexible project manager may see a better option for a shorter implementation process or more cost-effective design by taking a step back and looking at what is required of the project and remaining open-minded to the best way to meet those requirements.

  5. 5.

    A project manager learns to be flexible from on-the-job experiences. Formal training can help but previous experience is more important to learning the habit of remaining flexible.


Related Resources

Critical Knowledge inSight: Front-end Requirements Development

NASA APPEL ASK OCE Article: James Barrowman on Defining Requirements

NASA APPEL Course: Requirements Development and Management

NASA VPMC Full Session: 7 Habits of Highly Effective Project Managers


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