Cuddihy's Cut

Cuddihy's Cut on the events of the day....


Monday, February 13, 2006

Welcome to Competent Management

Keith Cowing seems to think that competently managing a large beaureacracy involves extreme deference to any random manager who has a different opinion than the top management.

This isn't a one time freak-out by Cowing: every time someone at NASA gets canned or transferred for refusing to follow orders, Cowing posts it as crushing of dissent, as if the courage to speak out against job realingment is of the same importance as shuttle safety.

The truth is, if you are a manager, people like Scott Hubbard are who you pray you never have working for you. People who put the security of their individual fiefdom above the overall mission. That is exactly how NASA has gone in circles for decades. Thousands of individually well-intentioned people, each trying to maintain their own particular niche without regard to the overall picture.

Yet when a competent manager comes in and starts organizing the beaureacracy to actually accomplish a task, people like Hubbard (and Cowing) throw up so many roadblocks that it's very tough to accomplish anything.

The truth is this: as a NASA civil servant, you do NOT have the right to your job. You do not have the right to pursue whatever space science tickles your fancy. Just because you work for the federal government does NOT give you the right to blow off top management and obstruct every effort that you do not happen to agree with.

Griffen laid out a plan, asked Hubbard to implement it for the good of the entire VSE (which in reality should be more important than the maintenance of the NASA beaureacracy.) Hubbard refused, so Griffen had to put in someone who would actually 'kowtow' to the actual plan.

I respect Keith Cowing a great deal, and his news reporting has had an overall extremely positive effect on NASA over the last 8 years. But I wish he would allow Griffen to organize NASA in a competent way without complaining whenever some golden cow has to be melted down to a productive purpose.

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