Retrospective: 2011


“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.”
–Robert Brault

As 2011 draws to a close, I’m very pleased to celebrate three years of postings on Leading Space.  These three years have borne witness to a number of changes in human spaceflight, some very fundamental.  Along the way I’ve written about my role in my tiny corner of the human spaceflight world, and also commented on space policy matters and the associated leadership (or lack thereof) coming from Capitol Hill and the White House.  In any case, a number of postings here on Leading Space have gained traction with you, the reading audience, for which I thank you.  You make Leading Space what it is, and it wouldn’t be it without you.  Today’s retrospective will look back at 2011 viewed through those postings, and conclude with a brief look ahead to 2012.

The most popular topic on Leading Space is – no surprise – change.  In particular, the most frequently viewed post is one that I wrote two years ago this month: Transactional, Transitional, and Transformational Change.  That post foreshadowed the policy shift in human spaceflight that happened two months later, with the cancelation of the Constellation Program and the handing over of routine access to low Earth orbit to the private sector.  The aforementioned post was written in a broad sense.  Subsequent posts focused on details of human spaceflight changes in the context of the change model introduced in that post.  I’ve given a lot of further thought to this particular view of change.  In the future I see making a stronger unification of it with Michael Watkins’s STaRS model, especially between transitional change and the Realignment state in STaRS.  Recalling a conversation I had last month with Dr. Howard Prince at the University of Texas, I would also like to bring some of his ideas on leadership to this model as well.

Another popular topic is teamwork.  Here, posts such as Team Charter (written earlier this year) and Building and Leading Teams Through Conation and the Kolbe Model (written about two years ago) are frequently visited posts.  The topic of leading high performance teams is of great interest to me, and I’m pleased that others share my interests enough to make this topic a popular one.  I’m continuing to refine and evolve my view of leading teams through theory and practical application, and I’ll continue to share my experiences with both on Leading Space in 2012.  It is likely I will be forming another team in the coming year to revisit the strategies for purchasing goods and services for Mission Control, astronaut training, planning systems, and the people who perform the work.  To the extent that I can share my experiences, I will do so.

Another frequently-viewed topic is the series I wrote earlier this year on Human Spaceflight Directions.  This six-part series was motivated in part by a conversation I had with Mary Lynne Dittmar and a series she is writing on the value propositions of human spaceflight.  I also wrote the series to prepare for a talk with the North Houston Astronomy Club on the future of human spaceflight.  As I see it, much of the conversation concerning the value of human spaceflight is muddled in unclear values or values not supported by the instruments of policy and budgets.  If we wish to align the human spaceflight value proposition with our own values, I see a strong need for us to be clear and persistent in those conversations with each other and with our elected officials.  Hopefully, this series will serve as an example and a starting point for those conversations.

I hope you enjoyed this retrospective and are looking forward to a brighter future in 2012.  Happy holidays!

Text Copyright © 2011, Joe Williams
Photo credit: iStockPhoto/alexsl
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Retrospective: 2011