Teamwork and Leadership Workshops
"There may be 'born leaders' but there are surely too few to depend on them. Leadership must be learned, and can be learned." — Peter Drucker
NASA projects demand effective leadership and teamwork. The Academy of Program/Project and Engineering Leadership addresses NASA's need for effective leadership and teamwork development by offering services designed to build the management competencies of project practitioners. At the heart of the Academy's mission is the goal to deliver services to project leaders when they need it, how they need it and where they need it.
Working with Dr. Charles Pellerin, former NASA Director of Astrophysics, APPEL offers customized, onsite workshops designed to assess and enhance attitudes and behaviors of team leaders and members. APPEL also works to help NASA’s leaders and team members develop the attitudes and behaviors they need to meet the demands of today’s projects and to prepare themselves for tomorrow’s challenges.
In each of its workshops, APPEL consultants introduce a system developed by Dr. Pellerin and based on four key leadership functions: Valuing, Visioning, Relating, and Directing. Projects may choose to conduct team, interface, and selected leadership e-assessments to provide measurements with which to customize a workshop to meet immediate project needs. Workshop activities enable participants to identify and address areas where they can improve their team and leader effectiveness.. APPEL works with the workshop sponsor to determine the timing, duration, and customized focus of the event.
Funding for the workshops is provided by NASA Centers and APPEL. The only administrative requirement for project managers who request APPEL services is a post-workshop evaluation, which enables the Academy to assess the program's effectiveness.
Representative Workshop Outcomes
Upon completion of a workshop participants should be able to:
- Organize experiences and thinking to incorporate the full context of a situation in order to choose effective actions.
- Communicate decisions in a way that fosters willing reception.
- Understand behaviors that affect team leadership, teamwork, and organizational interfaces.
- Select effective action to improve personal behaviors and increase effectiveness and efficiency of teams.
- Choose strategies and staff that serve the values of customers and the tasks of a project.
Team Effectiveness Development
NASA's classic "can do" culture has spawned success after success over the decades. Effective project teams mitigate technical and social risks, and enhance the probability of achieving project goals. APPEL works to enhance the environments in which project and executive teams operate. Inefficient working environments cost projects money and threaten project success. Following the failure of the Mars Climate Orbiter in 1999, a failure review report concluded that "Success means starting with the right people and creating a cultural environment where they can excel." APPEL works to develop effective teamwork and teams.
When NASA program managers, project managers or related executives want to develop, cultivate, and enhance behaviors that determine the effectiveness of their organization, they can request performance enhancement assistance from APPEL. Using an e-assessment, APPEL consultants measure key behavioral norms that determine team effectiveness and suggest actions designed to improve the effectiveness of the project or executive team.
Once managers have identified a plan of action, they communicate assessment results and planned actions to their team. With APPEL assistance, project managers may request appropriate interventions, such as tailored workshops, tele-coaching, or onsite mentoring by an experienced practitioner. Repeating the assessment (four weeks to four months later) produces trend metrics that measure progress.
Performance Enhancement Center Program Managers, all former NASA project managers, are available at most Centers to respond to requests for this service. Leads arrange for e-assessments of a team, deliver the measurement report, and identify problems stemming from social issues, such as communication gaps, distrust, overwork, and unclear role definition. Finally, APPEL Center Program Managers
recommend a plan of action.
Project managers need not fear repercussions from receiving this assistance. Participants control all aspects of the service, including scores, comments, and responses. Information is not disseminated without explicit permission from participants.
Measured Indicators of Effective Behavioral Norms
- Valuing — expressing authentic appreciation, addressing shared interests
- Relating — appropriately including others, keeping all agreements
- Visioning — hope and vision, commitment to outcomes
- Directing — resisting blaming or complaining; roles, accountability and authority
To address the need for experience-based knowledge required in project/program management, APPEL provides Experienced Practitioners to support project teams. By using their experience and practical knowledge in project gap areas, Experienced Practitioners can assist a project in improving performance and accomplishing mission success.
APPEL Experienced Practitioners are:
- Experienced in project management
- Experienced project practitioners who have already applied their knowledge at NASA
- Knowledgeable in NASA project and program processes
- Viewed by NASA senior management as role models
- Available to support any Center
How does it work?
Experienced Practitioners consult with project teams to enhance project performance in specific areas requested by management. They provide support to projects but do not perform the project's work. They are available quickly, and their services are provided directly through APPEL. NASA Project Managers may contact their APPEL Center Program Manager
to request these services.