Category Archives: Gov 2.0

Castles and Foundation Stones

“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.” Henry David Thoreau

Karlstejn Castle outside Prague: home of the Holy Roman Empire.

Karlstejn Castle outside Prague: home of the Holy Roman Empire.

Debbie Weil came to NASA recently to interview me for a book she’s writing about Social Media and the over 50 crowd — and yes, I totally fit into her demographic. She asked how we’d been able to make such headway at NASA with a number of groundbreaking projects.

My answer: by doing all the hard work to put solid foundations in place to support them.

UK Appleby Castle Knight. Copyright 2002 Beth Beck

UK Appleby Castle Knight. Copyright 2002 Beth Beck

Sometimes the best tool for breaking new ground is a pickax. Sometimes it involves diplomacy. Sometimes it requires creative negotiations. Most often it requires stubborn determination and an extremely thick skin. Body armor comes in handy too — for all the slings and arrows of opposition.

“To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
and by opposing end them.” — Shakespeare’s Hamlet

Making dreams come true takes a good deal of sweat, blood and tears. Ask any entrepreneur how many hours he or she works, or how many ideas crashed and burned along the way.

Sometimes putting the legal, budget, and procurement processes in place to create a project seems to take longer than necessary. Yes, it usually does. That’s what Red Tape is all about. But the fact that we get anything through the federal bureaucracy at all can be nothing short of a miracle. So rejoice when we make it through to the other side. Cobbling together political will to make change happen can be exhausting as well, but it’s absolutely, positively essential for success of any new project.

Foundation building is grueling, hard work — whether it means digging deep into the rock, or building up stone by stone, block by block. Better the house built on rock than one built on shifting sand.

“But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” Matthew 23-27

So whether you’re building solid foundations of character or projects, my hat’s off to you. I’ll be right there beside you, slugging it out to make this world a better place.

Here’s to castles in the air, and the foundations that keep them there!

 

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Filed under culture, federal government, Gov 2.0, LAUNCH, leadership, NASA, social media

Adaptors vs. Innovators: Kirton Inventory as Gov 2.0 Predictor?

Anke Domscheit-Berg ignited a gender fire storm yesterday with her GovLoop blogpost: “Why do women understand government 2.0 and social media better than men?”

My good buddy and LAUNCH: Health teammate, Todd Khozein, sent me an email yesterday with the link. I read the post and left a comment, then tweeted out the link. I received these comments back:

@edwardvirtually tweet about gender differences

@califgirl232 tweet about women and Gov 2.0

@genejm29 tweet

@edwardvirtually tweet

Interesting conversation about whether women are better suited to embrace Gov 2.0 tools. Personally, I love social media tools, but I work with women who don’t. I’ve learned a great deal about Gov 2.0 from incredibly gifted progressive guys at NASA, but watched many more snub their noses at it. I think it goes both ways.

Though gender may give insight into how men and women approach situations differently, we may find a less contentious Gov 2.0 cheerleader-meter.

The Kirton Adaptation-Innovation Inventory may just be the PERFECT tool to flush out change agents.

The Kirton Inventory measures problem-solving and creativity in individuals and helps teams understand the different ways they approach solutions. I first learned of the Kirton Inventory back in the 1990s when I planned an off-site retreat for the Office of Policy and Plans (better known as the Land of MisFit Toys) led by Lori Garver. We brought in a facilitator who tested us, then walked us through how our Kirton scores would help Lori make smart team assignments.

The Kirton Inventory scores individuals on a continuum from Adaptors to Innovators. The Adaptors work best within the existing system, seeing change as a matter of  tweaking and perfecting what already exists. The Innovators embrace all things new and adapt quickly to change.

Kirton Inventory: Characteristics of Adaptors & Innovators

Characteristics of Adaptors & Innovators. Credit: "Chemical Innovation" Nov 2001

At the extreme ends of either side of the spectrum, the Adaptors find comfort in the status quo where the Innovators prefer tossing out the old and starting fresh. Neither side can speak the language of the other, and need translators — who are the individuals who scored somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. These individuals are called the “Bridge” because they can speak both languages: status quo and change.

Our facilitator advised that every team needed at least one Bridge to keep the process moving, otherwise miscommunication and misunderstandings could impede progress.

alienMy Kirton Inventory scores qualified me as an extreme innovator. Surprised? 😉 Most of my workmates scored on the opposite end of the spectrum as Adaptors, and some as extreme Adaptors. I began to understand for the first time why I felt like an alien at NASA. My Innovator-DNA hadn’t equipped me to relate, understand, or communicate with “the Adaptors.”

According to an article about the Kirton Inventory Tool in “Chemical Innovation: Can corporate innovation champions survive?” Nov 2001…

Extreme Innovators describe Extreme Adaptors as:

  • dogmatic,
  • compliant,
  • stuck in a rut,
  • timid,
  • conforming, and
  • inflexible.

Extreme Adaptors describe Extreme Innovators as:

  • Unsound
  • impractical,
  • abrasive,
  • undisciplined
  • insensitive,
  • one who loves to create confusion.

I’ve heard many of these words used to describe me — abrasive, impractical, chaos-creator. Yep, the story of my 25 years at NASA.

Back to the original question: Does an affinity for change (think Gov 2.0) have anything to do with gender, as described in Anke’s thought-provoking blogpost? Are Innovators or Adaptors pushed to the extremes through influences or factors linked to DNA, socialization, gender, or experiences? The Kirton Inventory doesn’t address the causes behind the scores, so I can’t answer the question. I can only offer another data point for the discussion.

I have an idea! Why don’t you take the Kirton test yourself? See if you’re an Adaptor or Innovator. Let me know what you find out.

But if you’re an Adaptor, remember to bring your translator with you. Otherwise, I might not understand a word you say.

Crosspost on GovLoop.

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Filed under federal government, Gov 2.0, govloop, leadership, NASA, social media

Space Buzz: The New High!

The 18th annual SXSW Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas will be held on March 11-15, 2011. They bill the event as “five days of compelling presentations from the brightest minds in emerging technology, scores of exciting networking events hosted by industry leaders.” Potential presenters submit panel session proposals, which are sifted and selected for voting.

I’ve never been to SXSW, but I’ve wanted to go for years. Now is the time, I hope — with your help.

Our panel “Space Buzz: The New High” has been selected for consideration by YOU. You’ll have to sign up for an account, then you can vote and comment. Our panel will explore NASA’s social media conversation, specifically how to create and collect the buzz.

Come visit us in the NASA Buzzroom to see what the buzz is all about.

Star -powered panel: Jesse Thomas of Jess3.com, NASA’s Stephanie Schierholz, Miles O’Brien and Ariel Waldman have agreed to share the stage, if we get selected.

It’s all up to you to GIVE SPACE A CHANCE!

Space Buzz panel

Space Buzz panel

Let’s create some space buzzVote now…and tell all your friends.

Crosspost on GovLoop.com.


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Filed under Gov 2.0, NASA, social media, technology

RESPECT: Just a Little Bit!

Do you ever have those days, weeks, or months where life just gets you down? Too many projects to juggle. Too many battles too fight. Too many bills to pay. Not enough hours in the day.

Do you ever feel like this?

He looks how I feel sometimes...

My self-portrait!

The last few weeks have been rough. Getting my daughter Steph graduated and packed for Africa consumed much of my energy and emotion. I haven’t recharged yet. I can see it daily, as I allow typical bureaucratic in-fighting to get under my skin. Normally I’m more resilient. Now, I just feel flat.

Doing the right thing can be hard...I received lots of TWencouragement from tweeps. Like this tweet from Gordon Vaughn @aeroG of Houston, Texas:

Tweet: Doing right thing is about long-term perspective.What’s been really hard lately (for a career government employee who despises paperwork of any kind — except a paycheck, and those are electronic now) is putting in place legal documents to enable a 5-year exhibit contract, a never-been-done-before technology concept to capture innovative thought-processes, and partnerships to propel forward our next LAUNCH sustainability forum.

Bow Wave by artist Edouard Kamhi

Bow Wave by artist Edouard Kamhi

Think about a power boat slicing the water in forward progress. What’s left behind? A bow wave. The water has to go somewhere, and it’s powerful enough to swamp another boat.

If you travel through the air, you create a shock wave. The point is: with forward movement, you displace what was once there and shift it somewhere else.

It’s the same in the government. You can push forward and make significant progress, but at some point, the paperwork catches up with you. It’s simply a given…

The cost of doing business with the government: paperwork.

But in the midst of all the scrambling the past few weeks to make sure we document the cool things we’re doing at NASA, a colleague made this comment to me:

“What’s different about you, Beth, is that you respect the bureaucracy.”

Ok, I’ve got to admit. I was horrified. I abhor bureaucracy. It’s the bane of my existence. When I asked what she meant, she explained. Though I push the envelop and make people crazy with my new ideas, I respect that legal documents make everything work.

I had to admit. She’s right. What I’ve learned through 25 years getting smacked around by the goverment: the law is the law. We can argue interpretation of the law (and I’m pretty good at arguing for flexibility), but we need our lawyers to bless our forward progress.

If our lawyers are with us, who can be against us…if you know what I mean.

I learned something new about myself in the midst of this crazy, chaotic, bureaucratic nightmare I’m in the middle of:

I really DO respect the difference between doing my own thing, and doing the right thing. Hopefully, they’ll always be the same thing.

Where’s Aretha when I need her? I feel like singing...R.E.S.P.E.C.T…just a little bit…!

Crosspost on GovLoop.com.

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Filed under culture, federal government, Gov 2.0, leadership, NASA, social media

Space: @Astro_Wheels Point of View

Though many love to bash Twitter as meaningless chatter, I beg to differ. I think true character is revealed through a mere 140 characters — humor, anger, heart and soul. Meaningless chatter? Yes, that too. But I’m less inclined to follow a chatterhead…or TWatterhead, in Twitter-speak.

As an example of why Twitter matters, I want to introduce you to our new Twitternaut Doug Wheelock, better known as @Astro_Wheels to those of us in the Twittersphere. Doug just launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on June 15 with fellow NASA astronaut Shannon Walker and Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin to join the rest of the Expedition 24 crew on the International Space Station. Doug will stay on Space Station as Expedition 25 Commander with the next crew change-out via Soyuz.

Note: Using the Soyuz spacecraft as our Space Station transport, we launch and land three crewmembers at a time. With six crew inhabiting our Station at any given time, each crewmember serves on two Expedition missions during their 5-6 month orbital assignment.

The Right StuffWith the ever popular @Astro_Soichi Noguchi leaving Station, we needed someone tweeting in space. Doug agreed. And I’m so glad he did. I’m thoroughly enjoying his point of view and feel he’s “The Right Stuff” for the job of communicating the amazing story of humanity’s journey to space and back.

Doug is a natural. He’s not only sharing pictures with us, but adding quite poignant commentary. We can share his journey together. Here is how it starts…and we’ve only just begun. He’ll be on orbit for the next five+ months.

Pre-flight

@Astro_Wheels Russian Sokol spacesuit. Astro_Wheels Expedition 24 Crewmates@Astro_Wheels posing next to Soyuz Hatch@Astro_Wheels takes Medal of Honor to orbit.@Astro_Wheels showing his Soyuz window seat.Soyuz spacecraft on the launchpadSoyuz spacecraft on the launch pad

On-Orbit

@Astro_Wheels Sunrise@Astro_Wheels Aurora@Astro_Wheels: Cyprus from Space Station@Astro_Wheels: Egypt from Space StationI’m really looking forward to learning more about astronaut Doug Wheelock through his 140 character tweets. I hope you’re following him. If you’re not, you should.

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Filed under astronaut, Earth, federal government, Gov 2.0, leadership, NASA, social media, space

Ideas on How to Open NASA? Spill!

Are you someone who knows exactly what it takes to make NASA the best agency possible? Do you doodle ideas on cocktail napkins and mail them to a NASA Center? Do you wake up early in the morning to watch Space Shuttle launches (like this morning’s 4:14 a.m. EST STS-130 launch) or stay up all night for mission coverage of Space Station? Do you wish you could wear a NASA badge and sit in a cubicle somewhere in the bureaucratic maze at a NASA installation?

Have we got a job for you!

Get your creative juices flowing. Capture all your ideas. We’re listening. You have until March 19, 2010 to share your ideas with us about how NASA can be more:

  1. Transparent,
  2. Participatory,
  3. Collaborative, and
  4. Innovative.
OpenGov NASA idea sharing site

OpenGov NASA idea sharing site

We’ve deployed a cool idea-sharing tool to let you give input, comment on input of others, and vote ideas up or down. Your ideas will feed into NASA’s Open Government Plan. You need an account first, but that’s as simple as adding your e-mail and a password.

Go ahead. Give it a try.

Submit an Idea

Submit an idea

And if you find any ideas by me in the system, feel free to give them a generous thumbs up!  (I’m just getting started….)

OpenGov/NASA idea

OpenGov/NASA innovation idea

OpenGov/NASA People's Choice Award

OpenGov/NASA People's Choice Award

“We are continually faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as insoluble problems.” – John Gardner 1965

Let’s tackle those opportunities!

Crosspost on GovLoop and OpenNASA.

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Filed under federal government, Gov 2.0, NASA, OpenNASA, social media, space

Why Twitter? Why Now? Why Not?

I’m still processing conversations from the STS-129 Launch Tweet-Up at the Kennedy Space Center on Sunday and Monday. Because we spent launch day at the press site, I crossed paths with a number of veteran reporters and cameramen — yes, most were men.

They found it “amusing” — to say the least — that we wanted to host a group of “twits.” Ar Ar Ar Ar. Think loud belly laughs and shared nods. (A modern version of their reaction would be fist-bumps.) We prefer the word, tweeps, thank you.

Here’s one common question: “What can you possibly say in 140 characters?”

My answer: A few well chosen words speak volumes. What about:

I love you.

You’re fired.

Thank you.

You’re free to go.

I’m pregnant. (I’m not. Just so you know.)

Here are a few words I tweet often. Reality check on our industry. We’ve been reluctant to let others see us sweat. So. I like to remind the twitterverse:

Space is HARD! We make it look easy.

But noone can tweet it better than @Astro_Mike Massimino, who is eloquent in his 140 character essays on life in space.

@Astro_Mike's tweet from orbit

@Astro_Mike's tweet from orbit

My point is simply this: 140 characters, crafted thoughtfully, can be life-changing. We, in the government AND media, are wedded to our wordiness. (Just look at some of the titles on our business cards.) We ensure nothing is left open to interpretation. We want the “last word” to close out the argument.

Twitter invites a conversation. Free form. No boundaries.

Is free-flowing conversation a risk? Sure. Isn’t it always? But, I think we call that democracy. Right? Freedom of speech? Twitter simply makes it global. And how cool is that!

Follow the living, breathing NASA STS-129 Tweet-Up conversation.

BTW, you can help @Astro_Mike win TWEET of the YEAR for his first tweet from space in Mashable’s Open Web Awards. Vote & vote often!

Cross post on GovLoop.

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Filed under culture, federal government, Gov 2.0, leadership, NASA, social media, space, tweet-up