FY-Eye: Astronaut's NASA Spoof
NPR's "Morning Edition" reported today on a YouTube video making the rounds in the broader NASA community, raising concerns that the Space agency has squashed innovation and dissenting opinions.
As NPR's Nell Greenfieldboyce reports, "four-time space flier Andrew Thomas tells the fictional story of a young engineer at Johnson Space Center in Houston who has a great new concept for a spacecraft design."
Her attempts to convince her managers go nowhere. They dismiss her proposal with administrative objections even as they assure her that her efforts are valued.
"We don't want to repress dissenting views or innovation like this. That's not how we operate," says a fictional manager in the video. As he speaks, a caption appears and poses a question: "Are you sure?"
Management saw the video at a retreat last month.
One manager, Wayne Hale, posted it on his blog and wrote that he found it "extraordinarily funny and not at all funny."
Hale noted that after the space shuttle Columbia accident, the investigation board said NASA's culture had stifled dissenting opinions from engineers who were concerned about potential dangers. NASA's leadership has been trying to change its culture. "Still, it is hard to tell how effective the change effort has been," Hale wrote.
Watch at least a few moments of the video above. Its producers note at the end that the actors' scripts are based on real events.
"This is not meant to suggest that this kind of culture exists everywhere," the producers state at the end. "But elements of this culture exist in many areas and are huge Barriers to Innovation and Inclusion."
These government employees deserve credit for taking some time to address concerns about innovation in their workplace in an innovative way. Read or listen to NPR's report and make sure to watch the video above. Then leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
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