In 2007, a small group of people began an intentional, collaborative experiment in open, transparent, and direct communication about your space program. Our goal was to enable your direct participation in exploring and contributing to NASA’s mission.

Many of us have since begun new adventures. This site will remain as an archive of the accomplishments of the openNASA experiment.

Chris Gerty

A few weeks ago, the Joint Leadership Team (JLT) at Johnson Space Center (JSC) was treated to a day-long retreat of presentations from each of the Innovation and Inclusion (I&I) Council’s Engagement Teams. I know it seems like classic “NASA acronym soup”, but there was nothing classic about how far the audience was reaching outside of their comfort zone that day.

Perhaps the furthest-reaching team was called Barrier Analysis. You might be familiar with that team’s video, since as of now it’s received over 92,000 hits on You Tube. That’s right, it’s the one from Wayne Hale’s blog post and the NPR story. There’s even a good summary of its background here on OpenNASA. It has been great to see the conversation that has started among NASA employees and the general public alike. The other teams also had some very interesting (if not quite as controversial) contributions relating to the inner-workings of the JSC Community. They looked internally at challenges such as Recruiting, Mentoring, IT Infrastructure, or Work-Life Fit. Personally, I had the privilege of working with 12 others to study the latter, and in the spirit of being open, I’d like to share with the OpenNASA readers the results of our work.

The Work-Life Fit team was made up of employees from across the center, civil servants and contractors, including some subject matter experts and a facilitator to help keep the varying perspectives focused on our goal. That goal was to conduct a short study, addressing three general areas:

  • Review existing Work-Life Fit offerings to employees at the Johnson Space Center.

  • Give consideration as to what other flexibilities should be included.

  • Develop ideas on how to market current flexibilities, encouraging wider acceptance and use.

Given the challenge to think outside of PowerPoint for our presentation, we decided pretty early to put together a video that caught the audience’s attention, and highlighted our key findings and recommendations. Knowing we would have folks in the room that needed to immediately discuss our suggestions, we accompanied the video with a summary one-pager, and of course we had a more detailed white paper that fully explained the research that brought us to our conclusions.

Our video was split into two parts, the first of which reflected on why fitting work and life together effectively was important – and particularly at NASA/Johnson Space Center. The videos on YouTube have a “Watch in High Quality” link, so make sure to click just to the bottom-right of the video. Here’s Part One, which we showed to introduce the subject of Work-Life Fit at the Johnson Space Center (JSC):

Work-Life Fit at JSC: Part 1 (YouTube video)

During the interlude we asked the audience a few prying questions to help communicate some of the “eureka moments” we had. First we wanted to convey the difference between Work-Life Fit, and Work-Life Balance/Segregation, so we asked how many people who were given a Blackberry for work, used it to communicate on occasion with their spouse. We then asked if anyone ever carried a separate cell phone for work and personal calls. To us, this was a simple example of the difference between integrating, and balancing. After a few more of those types of questions we came back around to the use of technology by asking how many people used a cell phone, pager, or PDA in college or high school to be more productive in work and life. Very few hands went up. Our point here was that 100% of new-hires are familiar with the use of these technologies. This younger generation can be very effective when given flexibilities which allow them to manage their life and work.

The second video was a few minutes longer, and specifically addressed our recommendations and gave a preview of some of the data we used to make our conclusions.
Work-Life Fit at JSC: Part 2 (YouTube video)

Keep in mind that these are only recommendations, and not sanctioned or accepted by NASA as of yet. Hopefully after presenting to the Joint Leadership Team we have opened a few eyes and sparked some conversations within the gates of the Johnson Space Center, and maybe by posting it here we’ll even get some feedback from outside the gates. So after watching the video and/or reading our written publications which accompany it, what are your thoughts? How does the JSC community compare to others with respect to Work-Life Fit? How do you fit work with your personal lives?

-Chris G.