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Volume 46 | Issue 5 | June 2004


photo: Barbeque Master, Jay Levine.
Kevin Petersen. NASA Photo

Center Director's column

I have always thought that Dryden was a great place to work. Part of the magic stems from an exciting mission, but another source is the talented, dedicated workforce. Dryden has always attracted wonderful people. The challenge lies in providing effective, consistent leadership and management.

For the past couple of years, in conjunction with our efforts to implement High Performance Organization concepts to improve the Center, a number of managers at Dryden have been meeting to help shift our leadership philosophy and operational values toward a more collaborative approach that takes full advantage of the talents of all employees and allows them room for initiative and innovation. We have come to recognize that some issues at Dryden result from inconsistent leadership and management behaviors.

We are starting to change, but old habits die hard and cultural change is always slow. As a result, the changes may not yet be very obvious to most employees. But our vision is that each of us has some mixture of leadership, management and technical roles to perform in our work. We plan to rely increasingly on the extensive knowledge and creativity of our diverse population. We believe that teamwork produces superior results from the successful integration of different skills and disciplines.

To succeed in the current environment in America, we must treat our customers and suppliers as equal partners. We must dedicate ourselves to working with them to provide the highest-value services and products in a safe and effective way. At the same time, we must value our people, communicate openly and expand our knowledge and skills. In that way, we can achieve goals that are critical to the nation's future.

While managers are trying to shift from the tendency to believe that they alone know what Dryden needs to succeed, each individual must seek to be honest, trustworthy, ethical and courteous to others. We must all commit to continuous learning and self-improvement. We also need to provide assistance to younger or newer colleagues through mentoring and coaching. All of us contribute in various ways to the Dryden and NASA missions, and for any of us to succeed, we all must work together across organizational lines by sharing our competencies and knowledge. We must put the goals of the overall mission above our own personal goals without sacrificing the latter.

If we can all align our efforts with such a vision, there is no limit to what we can achieve. Through teamwork, we can fulfill our flight research mission while at the same time making Dryden an even better place to work.