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Ed Rogers - Learning is a Way of Life
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Chief Knowledge Officer Ed Rogers makes learning a way of life.

Name: Ed Rogers
Title: Chief Knowledge Officer
Formal Job Classification: Program Manager
Organization He Works For: Code 100, Office of the Director

What is most interesting about your role here at Goddard?

Nobody has a typical day, but my day is usually spent identifying the important lessons for Goddard to learn and then focusing on helping us learn them. This could involve researching and producing the lessons, packaging the lessons, and then teaching the lessons.

I work in an office but I also go out and meet lots of people. In addition, I run events like teaching a course or holding a workshop.

The coolest tool I use is called concept mapping which is a diagramming and thinking tool. I use this tool to help us think about the lessons before I teach them.

Of course teamwork and collaboration are essential. I rely on collaboration because the stories and lessons are not mine, they belong to someone else. Through working
Photo of Ed Rogers› Larger image
Photo of Ed Rogers. Credit: NASA/W. Hrybyk
together, I help them tell their stories and we all learn from them. Also, the outcome of what we do hopefully gets people to share more. The third angle is that a lot of the case studies I prepare are actually about teamwork and collaboration.

What is the coolest thing you’ve ever done as part of your job at Goddard?

A job at Goddard is what you make of it, which is not true of many other places. When I got here, I was hired to be the Chief Knowledge Officer which, incidentally, is an industry practice. But Goddard had never had a Chief Knowledge Officer and did not really know what I could do for them. As a result, I got to essentially define what my job would be here. I think this is true of many of the other jobs here as well. I got to decide what my job would be as long as it met the Center’s learning needs.

I like what Steve Jobs purportedly said: “We didn’t hire smart people so we could tell them what to do. We hired smart people so that they could tell us what to do.”

What lessons or words of wisdom would you pass along to somebody just starting their career at Goddard?

In my business, people love to learn but not everybody loves to be taught. I help people learn but I do not shove lessons at them. Packaging and delivery are critical.

Ed Rogers and his wife in front of the Taj Mahal.› Larger image
Ed Rogers and his wife in front of the Taj Mahal in India. Credit: E. Rogers

Tell us about your involvement with Goddard’s Leadership Development and Excellence in Management (LDEM)?

I have been a guest lecturer at LDEM a few times, often using the Challenger case study I developed. It is a privilege for the Center to have the LDEM program, which is a huge investment for the Center. People should take advantage of LDEM because it is a NASA-specific leadership program. Most other companies send their people to generic leadership courses but ours is tailored to NASA. LDEM instructors use several NASA case studies of our own missions to teach us our history.

Is there something surprising about you, your hobbies, interests, or activities outside of work that people do not generally know?

I teach a five-week course called “Managing Complexity” in an MBA program at the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad, India. I’ve done this for four years in
a row. I enjoy living in other countries. I grew up in Saudi Arabia and went to boarding school in southern India. My wife, kids, and I also lived in Lebanon and England. You have a different view of life when you’ve lived in other countries. You don’t have to be a millionaire to travel around the world. It doesn’t really matter where you go. Any new place will expand your mind.

If you could meet and talk to anybody, living or dead, who would it be and what’s the first thing you’d ask them?

I would talk to Gandhi. I’m totally fascinated by his personal transition from a practicing attorney in England to a man in rags in India who became a world-changer.

Related Links:

› Link to some of Ed Rogers' articles, papers, videos, and presentations.
› More Conversations With Goddard
Elizabeth M. Jarrell
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.