Life without a purpose is a languid, drifting thing; every day we ought to review our purpose, saying to ourselves, ‘This day let me make a sound beginning, for what we have hitherto done is naught!’”
–Thomas Kempis



My team and I are underway in the vetting of several key points in our strategic plan.  Last week we reviewed with a key stakeholder and with a key external organization.  In a few days, we will brief our leadership in mission operations.  In my last two entries I shared my challenges around Repackaging and Fear of Change that arose as we were assembling the presentation for the briefings. There is one more element for me to address: Purpose.

My team’s proposed strategic plan is rooted in the federal acquisition process and ties to the larger vision of the future for mission operations.  I extracted key points from our strategic plan for validation by our local stakeholders and key organizations.  It was the presentation-building process with the team that uncovered issues in the packaging of the message and fear of change, which I discussed earlier.  In the course of resolving those issues, I made one more addition to help me focus the presentation.  It addresses a question for me: why am I interested in seeking early feedback on these key elements from our stakeholders and leadership. Put simply, what is the purpose?

In one sense, I answer to many chiefs.  I answer to the leadership of mission operations, who have crafted and are acting on a larger vision that addresses the retirement of shuttle, a transition to steady state operations of the International Space Station, and the eventual start of mission operations for Orion.  I also deal with the federal acquisition process, with its bevy of procurement and legal professionals.  We are proposing change in an environment of change. And we need help if our strategic plan is to be successful.  With all of this, I boiled down the purpose to two key points: to introduce the leadership of mission operations to the key element of our strategic plan, and to point out to them where we will need their help.

This message, along with the repackaging and addressing the underlying fear of change, has made for a successful presentation so far.  One I finish the last briefing this week, my team and I begin a month-long process of formal reviews of the larger package before it is presented to executives at NASA Headquarters.  My motivation: focusing on the basic purpose of the vetting process at this stage will lead to a successful next stage, and an approved strategic plan.  That is the outcome I seek, and so far so good!