LTG was contracted by NASA to conduct an ethnographic assessment of a rapid teaming process focused on an autonomy innovation challenge. The experiment was designed to understand and answer a central research question: Can a NASA ARMD team rapidly learn and apply new approaches to creating innovative conceptual designs using the best researchers currently available?
LTG’s efforts were successful, with results and recommendations widely reported both within NASA and to external stakeholders. The use of ethnographic methods revealed the structure and dynamics at play during the efforts to achieve primary innovation at speed and rapid teaming in the AATC experiment. Critically, the challenges and supportive factors to ARMD through the CAS vehicle achieving the uptake, utilization, and acceptance of the tools of primary innovation and optimal teaming and leadership were clearly identified and are currently being actively used.
In the final report, the LTG team identified five “cornerstone investments” to create the groundwork for the kind of teaming and innovation desired. The team also detailed nineteen major opportunities for cultural and functional changes that could create the opportunity for the conditions in which innovation teams could function optimally. LTG discussed key organizational elements in initiating and supporting culture change: Sanctioning, modeling, supporting, and rewarding. LTG also identified five domains of opportunities for ARMD/CAS to explore with specific recommendation for action; those domains were: Training; organizational culture; mentoring/managing; communication/recognition; and teaming mechanics and support.
As NASA appreciates data-driven decision making, the results provided rigorous data to formulate strategic plans and guide decision making. NASA headquarters and team briefings were conducted, a final report focused on supporting change for innovation was developed, a panel presentation at an international aviation innovation conference was conducted, as well as development of collaborative journal and news articles. LTG’s work was recognized in the post-project Principal Investigator review.