Author Topic: Leadership from Mission Control  (Read 1798 times)

Offline pshill

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Leadership from Mission Control
« on: 09/14/2017 07:51 PM »
When most people think of NASA spinoffs, they imagine technology that is either developed or evolved by/for some NASA program.  Rarely would someone think to look to the techies for insights in organizational development, cultural stewardship, and, perhaps especially, emotional intelligence.  I hope to change that with a look inside the high-performing teams of JSC’s Mission Control, how our leadership culture evolved, and what it took for us to perform as managers with the same values and at the same performance level that has always been demanded of the workforce.

To demonstrate what I mean, here’s the Preface from a book I recently published, Leadership from the Mission Control Room to the Boardroom.  After 25 years in MOD and the privilege of so many great jobs while there, writing it was definitely an obsession and an obligation back to the organization and its people.  I have found many senior managers and executives who are already finding “leadership spinoffs” they can use!

Preface

There is great clarity in the least forgiving, most terrifying moments of human spaceflight. That clarity is due to the inescapable fact that some mistakes cannot be taken back, and astronauts who are counting on Mission Control may pay with their lives for any error, inattention, hesitation, or less-than- perfect decision-making.

For more than 50 years, NASA’s Mission Control has been known for two things:  1) perfect decision-making  in  extreme  and  unforgiving  situations and 2) producing generation after generation of steely-eyed missile men and women who continue that tradition while caring for our astronauts and the spacecraft on which they rely. A key to that legacy of brilliant performance is a particular brand of leadership. Although these leadership values are especially prevalent at the working level in Mission Control, they can also be deliberately applied to enable similar high performance in management roles in any setting.

Over the decades, as the spacecraft, rockets, and missions became more complex, the men and women in the control room remained very tightly aligned to specific values, their common cause in protecting the astronauts and accomplishing the mission, and the insanely high level of individual and team performance the responsibility required. However, as essential as the leadership focus continued to be in the control room, this was not always the case in the management ranks, away from the rocket science and the mission.

Like so many large, established organizations, by the end of its first 40 years, the Mission Control management team had become stove-piped at all levels from top to bottom. There was almost no semblance of real collaboration, from the common goal of protecting our astronauts to stewarding the leadership culture that is so essential to our success. As a result, by 2006 we were seeing unconscionable “cracks in the dam”—mission-related missteps in management forums that would not have been tolerated in the control room and that threatened to set the teams up for failure.

This is the story of how we became aware of the severe erosion in our management environment and the looming risk it brought to Mission Control’s perfect decision-making when it mattered most. From that sobering awareness, we learned to articulate our critical leadership values, not just recognize good performance and leadership when we saw them. In the journey that followed, the management team brought the same leadership values from the Mission Control room into our senior management ranks and deliberately reflected them in all of our management practices.

This is how we learned to steward a culture that is aligned with and reinforces the awesome responsibility of our people in Mission Control when the clock is ticking. It is also how we unleashed similar stunning, Mission Control- worthy performance in our management team.

Along the way, we discovered that our problems were no different than other organizations’, albeit with potential for more spectacular and physical catastrophe than many. That discovery helped us see our problems through many different lenses, to learn from others’ experience, and even to more clearly understand and articulate the principles that had always been most critical to our top performance. It also points the way for other leaders to see their problems through Mission Control’s lens and apply our discoveries to their challenges.

This was our journey as a management team. It is also how to transform any leadership team in the same way Mission Control learned to transform our own and how to develop the next generations of leaders to do the same.

This is what that looks like from the Mission Control Room to the boardroom, as experienced by the men and women who must be perfect every day in their decision-making while protecting our astronauts. “It ain’t rocket science,” as we say in Mission Control, but it can be just as difficult to grasp and apply until we learn to understand and tame the “scary” parts.

Join us in the discovery and the journey. Learn how to leverage the Mission Control leadership values, apply them in your management ranks, and bring a culture of highly reliable decision-making to your team and your business, just as we did.

----

And as I say in closing the book:

My sincere hope is that you will read this story, benefit from the tremendous strength found in the real-time morality, take heed of our mistakes and the great risk in the management cloud, and leverage our experience in evolving a leadership environment into alignment with the culture that remains critical in the most difficult work we do.

----

Find out more at:  http://atlasexec.com/book/

and

https://www.amazon.com/Leadership-Mission-Control-Room-Boardroom/dp/099863431X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1496873104&sr=8-1&keywords=mission+control+leadership
« Last Edit: 09/14/2017 08:13 PM by pshill »

Offline DavisSTS

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Re: Leadership from Mission Control
« Reply #1 on: 09/14/2017 08:58 PM »
You had me at seeing your name. Will be purchasing that at the weekend. Good to see you here!

Offline pshill

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Re: Leadership from Mission Control
« Reply #2 on: 09/14/2017 09:06 PM »
Well, thanks for your kind words :)


If you're in the UK, you may have trouble getting the current edition, as it is only supposed to be distributed in the US and Canada.  Nicholas Brealey Publishing is publishing an international edition by the end of the year, starting in the UK.  The international title will be Mission Control Management:  The principles of high performance and perfect decision making learned from leading at NASA.  It's the same text but slightly pared down by ~50 pages here and there.
« Last Edit: 09/14/2017 09:11 PM by pshill »

Online Chris Bergin

Re: Leadership from Mission Control
« Reply #3 on: 09/14/2017 11:07 PM »
And a big welcome to Mr. Hill! Most of you won't need much of an introduction, especially if you're a Shuttle fan.

"Obvious book purchase is obvious."

Well, thanks for your kind words :)


If you're in the UK, you may have trouble getting the current edition, as it is only supposed to be distributed in the US and Canada.  Nicholas Brealey Publishing is publishing an international edition by the end of the year, starting in the UK.  The international title will be Mission Control Management:  The principles of high performance and perfect decision making learned from leading at NASA.  It's the same text but slightly pared down by ~50 pages here and there.

Hopefully it's not a cheat, but the Amazon link says it can ship to the UK, after I just clicked on it. :)

Offline Jason Davies

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Re: Leadership from Mission Control
« Reply #4 on: 09/15/2017 01:11 PM »
Paul Hill!

Well I always hoped there would be a book from him (sorry, you sir, don't wish to talk as if you're not "in the room"), as MOD really is leadership of a high caliber level. Very interested in how it can be applied outside of MOD.

That's a purchase in work.

Offline Jamie Young

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Re: Leadership from Mission Control
« Reply #5 on: 09/15/2017 03:15 PM »
Looks interesting! Do we still have that awesome video of Mr Hill in full flow 'this is how we work' action during STS-114? :)

Offline pshill

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Re: Leadership from Mission Control
« Reply #6 on: 09/15/2017 04:21 PM »
That would be Hitman Hill.

Online Chris Bergin

Re: Leadership from Mission Control
« Reply #7 on: 09/15/2017 04:30 PM »
That would be Hitman Hill.

Indeed! Speaking of which...

Looks interesting! Do we still have that awesome video of Mr Hill in full flow 'this is how we work' action during STS-114? :)

Here we go on that brilliant answer at the STS-114 MSB, which was posted on Wayne Hill's thread as he was at that MSB (arrives several minutes into it)....
https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=22791.msg1320041#msg1320041




Offline Stardust9906

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Re: Leadership from Mission Control
« Reply #8 on: 09/15/2017 06:05 PM »
Well, thanks for your kind words :)


If you're in the UK, you may have trouble getting the current edition, as it is only supposed to be distributed in the US and Canada.  Nicholas Brealey Publishing is publishing an international edition by the end of the year, starting in the UK.  The international title will be Mission Control Management:  The principles of high performance and perfect decision making learned from leading at NASA.  It's the same text but slightly pared down by ~50 pages here and there.

It's listed on Amazon UK available from January 4th.  I look forward to adding another book to the collection. :)

Online AnalogMan

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Re: Leadership from Mission Control
« Reply #9 on: 09/15/2017 08:07 PM »
Well, thanks for your kind words :)


If you're in the UK, you may have trouble getting the current edition, as it is only supposed to be distributed in the US and Canada.  Nicholas Brealey Publishing is publishing an international edition by the end of the year, starting in the UK.  The international title will be Mission Control Management:  The principles of high performance and perfect decision making learned from leading at NASA.  It's the same text but slightly pared down by ~50 pages here and there.

It's listed on Amazon UK available from January 4th.  I look forward to adding another book to the collection. :)

Blackwell's Bookshop [UK] say they currently have 10+ copies of both hardback and paperback in stock:

http://bookshop.blackwell.co.uk/bookshop/product/Leadership-from-the-Mission-Control-Room-to-the-Boardroom-by-Paul-Sean-Hill/9780998634302

http://bookshop.blackwell.co.uk/bookshop/product/Leadership-from-the-Mission-Control-Room-to-the-Boardroom-by-Paul-Sean-Hill/9780998634319

Offline Martin FL

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Re: Leadership from Mission Control
« Reply #10 on: 09/18/2017 12:45 PM »
An obvious purchase for my collection. MOD during RTF and onwards was amazing. Paul Hill's role in that, well I don't need to go on, he's written a book, I'm buying it.

Offline DwightM

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Re: Leadership from Mission Control
« Reply #11 on: 09/19/2017 05:00 PM »
Awesome stuff. I just happen to be re-reading Flight by Chris Kraft and wishing for the same perspective from the shuttle era.  Got it! Thanks Mr. Hill, it's a privilege.

Offline pshill

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Re: Leadership from Mission Control
« Reply #12 on: 09/19/2017 10:08 PM »
Thanks again.  I appreciate the good words and your confidence very much.

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