Managing Knowledge and Learning at Nasa and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Topics: Mars Pathfinder, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA Pages: 2 (537 words) Published: January 17, 2011
Case # 9-603-062 Managing Knowledge and Learning at NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory This case focuses on knowledge management (KM) at NASA after a mandate to move from “expensive, infrequent, heavily engineered” projects to “Faster, Better, Cheaper” projects has been in place for almost ten years. Read the case, discuss it with your team members, and then answer the following questions.


Jeanne Holm, Chief Knowledge Architect for NASA faces challenges in loss of knowledge within the institution through two key areas: 1. A large number of experienced personnel was nearing retirement age. 2. After Goldin’s implementation of “cheaper faster better” mandate, many projects were stretched too thin in time and budget to properly pass down the knowledge acquired during the projects to future projects. Holm must decide what is the best way to pass down the tacit knowledge of the older scientist to the lesser experienced junior scientists and overcome the culture of apathy towards knowledge loss in order for NASA and JPL as a whole to continue space exploration in a time of smaller budgets and resources.

1) What were the pros and cons of the “Faster, Better, Cheaper” model? How might outcomes (both positive and negative) of projects executed with this model impact NASA’s stakeholders, i.e. Congress and the general public?

After Goldin’s implementation of the “faster, better, cheaper” mandate, NASA achieved short term success in its Mars Pathfinder mission. However, this short term success was quickly overtaken by many failed projects which upon later inspection, could have been successful if more care and time had been taken with the projects. The pros with Goldin’s mandate were that programs could be broken down into smaller pieces so a smaller project can be completed faster than a large project. Thus a failure of a smaller project did not affect the overall program as a whole. With a quicker...
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