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Nasa Analysis - Managing Knowledge and Learning at Nasa and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory

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MEMORANDUM

Date: October 24, 2011

Subject: Managing Knowledge and Learning at NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory

This case focuses on knowledge management (KM) at NASA after being modified from "expensive, infrequent, heavily engineered" projects to "Faster, Better, Cheaper" projects. Jeanne Holm, Chief Knowledge Architect for NASA faces challenges in loss of knowledge within the institution through two key areas: A large number of experienced personnel was closed to retirement age. In addition, after Goldin mandated the "cheaper faster better" program, many projects were stretched too thin in time and budget to properly pass down the knowledge acquired during the entire process via documentations for future use. Holm must decide on what is the best approach to pass down the implicit knowledge from the older scientist to the junior scientists; also to overcome the culture indifference towards knowledge loss in order for NASA and JPL as a whole to continue the space exploration projects with smaller budgets and resources. The two approaches Holm is proposing are investing in the IT infrastructure and to reform the knowledge management (KM) system to a culture shift.

Investing in the IT infrastructure can create a centralized database platform as a resource library for scientist and engineers to share information, documents, and experiences. The platform also has a discussion board forum allowing scientist or engineers from different functional groups to interact with each other. With this centralized system in place, the scientist and engineers can rely on this channel to form collaboration and communication among each division. Additionally, the system will enable NASA to capture employees' valuable knowledge and experiences in the course of informal discussion and formal documentaries. In addition, this could improve NASA and its partner's performance, and reducing risk and shortening time through trials and errors. However, an IT system alone may not be an ultimate solution; the system would not guarantee all scientist and engineers would document all procedures in maintaining the knowledge and talent within NASA. The cost to implement a share database with the newest technology may lead to necessary upgrade of other systems in order to be compatible supporting the newest technology, and ensuring the cost of all ongoing IT supports could ended up be very costly. In order to make use of this system, standard guidelines and requirements need to be established as control policies, so that all project information will be appropriately documented and stored in the database rather than on a discretionary basis.

The second approach is to reform the Knowledge Management (KM) system to a cross-agency culture shift and introduce a

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