Saturday, October 31, 2009

Review: How NASA Builds Teams by Charles J. Pellerin

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.

Free downloadable resources will help you:

Identify your teammates’ innate personalities

Diagram your culture (And compare it to your customer’s)

Measure the coherency of your project’s paradigm (Get this wrong and you will be fired!) and

Learn to meet people’s need to feel valued by you.

Further, you can download and use Pellerin’s most powerful tool for influencing the outcome of any difficult situation: the Context Shifting Worksheet.

Received from the publicist for review.

This was remarkably readable, well written, not overly technical, and easy to read, but dense. The chapters are a nice length, with lots of descriptive charts and graphs. The fascinating insight into various personalities and the way they interact was really enlightening.

This one gets four stars. Its explanation of how managers and managees can work together towards a mutually beneficial result is an attitude which is sorely lacking in 99.9% of Corporate America. I only wish the HR department in the last corporation I worked for had read this book! It truly should be required reading for management in big business. It is really that good. The anecdotes from the author's own personal and work experiences really help to tools into a recognizable context which reinforces their message.

★★★★ = Really Liked It


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