How NASA Builds Teams: Mission Critical Soft Skills for Scientists, Engineers, and Project Teams

  • 4h 8m
  • Charles J. Pellerin
  • John Wiley & Sons (US)
  • 2009

Every successful organization needs high-performance teams to compete and succeed. Yet, technical people are often resistant to traditional "touchy-feely" teambuilding.

To improve communication, performance, and morale among NASA’s technical teams, former NASA Astrophysicist Dr. Charlie Pellerin developed the teambuilding process described in How NASA Builds Teams—an approach that is proven, quantitative, and requires only a fraction of the time and resources of traditional training methods. This "4-D" process has boosted team performance in hundreds of NASA project teams, engineering teams, and management teams, including the people responsible for NASA’s most complex systems — the Space Shuttle, space telescopes, robots on Mars, and the mission back to the moon. How NASA Builds Teams explains how the 4-D teambuilding process can be applied in any organization, and includes a fast, free on-line behavioral assessment to help your team and the individual members understand each other and measure the key driver of team performance, the social context. Moreover, these simple, logical processes appeal strongly to technical teams who eschew "touchy-feely" training. Pellerin applies simple, elegant principles from his physics background to the art teambuilding, such as the use of a coordinate system to analyze the characteristics of team performance into actionable elements.

The author illustrates the teambuilding process with entertaining stories from his decade as NASA’s Director for Astrophysics and subsequent 15 years of working closely with NASA and outside business teams. For example, he tells how the processes in the book enabled him to initiate the space mission to fix the Hubble Space Telescope’s flawed mirror.

About the Author

Charles J. Pellerin holds a PhD in astrophysics and is the former director of NASA's Astrophysics Division, where he oversaw an annual budget of $750 million, launched a dozen satellites, and led the team that repaired the Hubble Space Telescope. He was also Professor of Leadership in the business school at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

In this Book

  • Introduction
  • Think You Can Ignore Context? Hubble's Flawed Mirror Might Wake You Up
  • Managing Social Context Manages Technical Performance
  • The 4-D System—A Simple Tool to Analyze Team and Individual Performance
  • The 4-D Assessment Process
  • NASA's 4-D Teambuilding Results
  • Using the 4-D System to Color Your Personalities
  • Using the 4-D System to Analyze Cultures
  • Incoherent Project Mindset Colors? Update Your Resume
  • The Context Shifting Worksheet (CSW)
  • Red Story-Lines Limit Team Performance
  • Manage Your Emotions to Manage Your Team's Energy
  • People Need to Feel Appreciated by You
  • Mine the Gold in Your Shared Interests
  • People Need to Feel Included by You
  • Building Trustworthy Contexts
  • Creating the Future You Want
  • Your Team Can't Afford Drama
  • Don't Put Good People in Bad Places
  • Epilogue—Hubble's Legacy
  • References