Challenges In Knowledge Management: Maintaining Capabilities Through Innovative Space Missions

Challenges In Knowledge Management: Maintaining Capabilities Through Innovative Space Missions

Larry J. Paxton (The Johns Hopkins University, USA)
Copyright: © 2008 |Pages: 23
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-624-2.ch013
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Abstract

One of the key problems faced by organizations is that of managing knowledge: how does an organization improve and maintain performance by generating, maintaining, and sharing knowledge? High tech organizations are much more dependent on knowledge as a commodity than those in the manufacturing sector. NASA certainly is the epitome of a high tech organization. It faces complex and deep challenges – not the least of which is how to address the loss of knowledge as the workforce ages and retires. In addition, NASA faces the consequences of a program that, in the face of programmatic constraints, subsumes the process of generating knowledge to the demands of maintaining commitments. Those commitments may not provide the optimal path for generating knowledge relevant to the future success of the organization. For a space-faring organization, mission cadence is one of the key determinants of cost and risk. Mission cadence is also important as it determines the number of people in the organization with direct and relevant experience with space missions. Under a constrained budget, mission cadence can be increased by reducing the size and scope of the missions. Small spacecraft missions can afford to be innovative and thus create a culture in which new ideas are welcomed and/or sought. These smaller missions can preserve and generate knowledge by training the next generation of scientists, engineers and program managers.

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