Wednesday 18 February 2015

The NASA knowledge policy

Below is the NASA Knowledge Policy,which you can find here. The most important words are the first three, in capitals.

A Knowledge Management policy is a core component of Knowledge Management governance. It is the document that defines How and Why the organisation will do KM. It represents the embedding of KM into corporate expectations.

For NASA, Knowledge Management can make the difference between successful and unsuccessful missions. It can protect massive investment and it can protect lives.  The NASA KM system has been built in the wake of failed missions and public disasters, and is something the organisation takes very seriously.

Here is their policy - note the first sentence.

Subject: Knowledge Policy on Programs and Projects
Responsible Office: Office of the Chief Engineer  
 a. It is NASA policy to:
 (1) Effectively manage the Agency's knowledge to cultivate, identify, retain, and share knowledge in order to continuously improve the performance of NASA in implementing its mission, in accordance with NPD 1000.0, Governance and Strategic Management Handbook. Individuals at all levels must take responsibility for retaining, appropriately sharing or protecting, and utilizing knowledge. In order to meet future challenges, innovate successfully, and keep pace with the state of the art in rapidly changing times,
NASA will focus on the following critical activities: 
a) Ensure that the Agency's knowledge is captured and accessible across all Centers with appropriate measures to safeguard sensitive but unclassified (SBU) knowledge and comply with Federal laws and regulations. 
b) Promote an environment that fosters continuous learning and adaptation to emerging technological and governing conditions. 
c) Promote the use of leading practices in knowledge cultivation, identification, retention, utilization, and sharing of the Agency's collective know-how. NASA Centers, Mission Directorates, and mission support organizations, as identified in NPD 1000.3, The NASA Organization, employ a range of knowledge management approaches and practices to address their unique capabilities, missions, and institutions. NASA Centers and Mission Directorates share their knowledge management practices and solutions to common knowledge challenges and adopt leading practices from others to achieve continuous improvement and increased efficiency. 
d) Address the impacts of knowledge loss through attrition, workforce demographic trends, such as increases in NASA's retirement-eligible or young professional population, program terminations by anticipating knowledge gaps, and execution of focused mitigations that benefit future knowledge users. 
e) Support NASA policy that NASA leaders, managers, supervisors, and employees participate in ongoing training and skills enhancement for project and program excellence, in accordance with NPD 7120.4, NASA Engineering and Program/Project Management Policy, and NPR 7120.5, NASA Space Flight Program and Project Management Requirements. This includes skills development in the effective identification, capture, and transfer of knowledge. NASA is committed to developing new ways of sharing and transferring knowledge, as well as developing tools, practices, and processes that facilitate learning. 
f) Govern the knowledge management enterprise on a federated basis, such that each Center and Mission Directorate determines the approach that best meets its needs, with the understanding that knowledge applicable to all NASA missions and Centers will be shared to the extent possible across the entire Agency.

b. Each organization shall implement continuous improvement of knowledge management processes.

a. This NPD is applicable to NASA Headquarters and NASA Centers, including Component Facilities and Technical and Service Support Centers. This language applies to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), other contractors, grant recipients, or parties to agreements who create and/or maintain knowledge for, or on behalf of NASA, as specified or referenced in the appropriate contracts, grants, or agreements.
b. In this directive, all mandatory actions (i.e., requirements) are denoted by statements containing the term "shall." The terms "may" or "can" denote discretionary privilege or permission; "should" denotes a good practice and is recommended, but not required; "will" denotes expected outcome; and "are/is" denotes descriptive material".

This policy is a primary document for KM governance in NASA. Note the following;

  • For NASA, KM is in service of  "continuously improving the performance of NASA in implementing its mission"
  • For NASA, KM is about ensuring knowledge is captured and accessible, and is cultivated, identified, retained, utilized, and shared.
  • For NASA, a key component of KM is Knowledge Retention
  • Training in KM skills is part of leadership training
  • KM,like everything else, is to be continuously improved
  • For NASA, KM is mandatory

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