Transitional Change Done Right

Those who expect moments of change to be comfortable and free of conflict have not learned their history.
–Joan Wallach Scott


Based on the tracking metrics of visitors to LeadingSpace, the most popular topic is transactional, transitional, and transformational change. I first wrote about this view of change two years ago through the lens of human spaceflight policy at the national level. At that time (this was late 2009), rumors were circulating that there would be changes to the flagship human spaceflight program of the future – the Constellation Program – resulting from the just concluded activities of the Augustine committee chartered by the current White House administration.  Little did I know at that time, nor did most people in the human spaceflight community, the depth of the changes to come:  the outright cancellation of the program, which lead to the shaking of the foundation of policy and purpose of human spaceflight.  As I’ve written several times since, the technical and political leadership took some missteps in the execution of a change of that magnitude, the consequences of which are still with us today. I still believe that.  However, today I’d like to shift to a positive focus, and to a different level within human spaceflight, to cite some examples from an organization that is managing transitional change successfully, and why.

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Transitional Change Done Right

Propellant Depots and Thought Bubbles

“Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.”

If you’ve been following space news recently, propellant depots are in the news again.  (If you’re not familiar with “propellant depots,” consider them as a “gas stations” in space – either in low Earth orbit or in other easily accessible locations in space.)  The latest news concerns the claim that NASA internal studies show that propellant depots provide a cheaper alternative to deep space exploration than that provided by the heavy lift options under consideration during the previous summer. I’m not going to address whether the reporting is accurate, or not (and I’m sure that comes to the disappointment of the propellant depot enthusiasts out there).  Instead, I’m going to use propellant depots to address something more fundamental that I hope has benefits beyond this particular arena – examination of my “thought bubbles.”

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Propellant Depots and Thought Bubbles

Characteristics of a Mentor

“Mentor: Someone whose hindsight can become your foresight.”

Thanks to a blog post by Michael Hyatt, I’ve been working on my life plan.  In one sense, I’m approaching 50 and perhaps it’s time for me to decide “what I want to be when I grow up.”  In another, I’ve experienced that writing down a plan itself leads to a greater sense of commitment to the actions necessary to implement the plan successfully.  I rediscovered this sense of commitment recently on a particular topic in my life plan: mentoring.

I believe it good sense to surround ourselves with trusted advisors, coaches and mentors.  Each brings value to us in different ways.  My own framework of advisors, coaches, and mentors looks something like this:

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Characteristics of a Mentor