Today’s Agile Methodology has links back to NASA Pirate Paradigm

In Recent Posts, Curated Resources, Library, Leadership Resources, Success Resources by Steve Sliwa

My wife once collaborated with John Muratore on the Sally Ride Strategic Planning Committee at NASA.  He was a rising manager at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.  He inherited a project that had fallen behind and spent a big part of the budget.  He reasoned the only way to make progress against the objectives was to challenge the normal way of making progress and break some of the rules.

He and his group codified a set of organizing principles, dubbed the “Pirate Paradigm:”

  • Don’t wait to be told to do something; figure it out for yourself
  • Challenge everything, and steel yourself for the inevitable cynicism, opposition, rumors, false reporting, innuendos, and slander
  • Break the rules, not the law
  • Take risks as a rule, not as the exception
  • Cut out unnecessary timelines, schedules, processes, reviews, and bureaucracy
  • Just get started; fix problems as you go along
  • Build a product, not an organization; outsource as much as possible

The team also adopted the motto of “build a little, test a little, fix a little,” a motto that would be echoed years later in the publishing of the Agile Manifesto.

This story is recounted here:  How NASA’s Pirate Paradigm Challenged The Status Quo

The article suggested, “How to Let Your Pirates Loose.”  In an organization struggling to innovate, troublemakers can be saviors. But the right conditions need to exist to allow their new practices and overall approach to flourish. As a leader, you should:

  • Embrace a culture of challenge and positive dissent
  • Provide your pirates with initial funding, executive sponsorship, and time for experimentation
  • Shield your pirates from bureaucracy and politics as they emerge
  • Publicize their early wins and give others permission to follow their lead

Original Source: How a Group of NASA Renegades Transformed Mission Control

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