News: Leadership course inspires shared vision
Story by Matthew Montgomery
HOUSTON - Karen Pennington, Defense Contract Management Agency NASA Product Operations administrative contracting officer/business team lead, recently attended the DCMA 202 Leadership Challenge workshop for supervisors in Aurora, Colo., and brought inspiration back to her staff here.
During the training, Pennington learned one of the five practices of exemplary leadership is to “Inspire a Shared Vision.” Leaders were tasked with writing vision statements, and challenged to share them with their team once returning to home offices.
This is exactly what Pennington did, using President John F. Kennedy’s visit to Rice University in the summer of 1962 as her vision introduction. She told her office during the speech Kennedy outlined his vision for America’s role in the business of solving the mysteries of space, as well as the timeline for the adventure.
Kennedy said, “This is a breathtaking pace, and such a pace cannot help but create new ills as it dispels old, new ignorance, new problems, new dangers. Surely the opening vistas of space promise high costs and hardships, as well as high reward. So it is not surprising that some would have us stay where we are a little longer to rest, to wait. But this city of Houston, this state of Texas, this country of the United States was not built by those who waited and rested and wished to look behind them. This country was conquered by those who moved forward--and so will space.”
Pennington said these words from Kennedy inspired her vision during the workshop. “We have seen astronauts land on the moon and we have seen Apollo and shuttle tragedies take place right before our eyes,” said Pennington. “We most recently witnessed the Columbia disaster in which the orbiter broke up over our state at re-entry, and we each participated with the community in mourning the loss.”
“Some of us have personally watched the shuttle soar into space or shared the experience with fellow teammates in front of a video monitor,” continued Pennington. “We are up close and personal to the shuttle era end. We have also seen the beginning of new programs, many changing their look and name day by day. All these memories tell the story that right here in Houston there is no time to rest, to wait, and to look behind. We must move forward into the great unknown, just as Kennedy predicted space would.”
DCMA NASA Product Operations is part of the team required to meet NASA mission requirements. Pennington said as the office does its part, “We contribute to successful mission accomplishments. This is true regardless of what that mission looks like, or what organization we report to tomorrow. I challenged my team to have the courage to step into the vast unknown and make this shared vision a reality.”
With the quotes from Kennedy accompanying Pennington’s assessment as the backdrop, she unveiled her vision statement indicating the famous line from space, “Houston, we have a problem” will be replaced by “Houston, we have NO problem, DCMA is on the team.”
Pennington said a classmate during the workshop suggested the slogan be made into a banner. “The idea struck a chord with me,” said Pennington. “So, I designed and ordered a banner for the office, which was subsequently duplicated by the contracts team chief in our other contracts office. The team has rallied around the banner, and taken the slogan as the new office attitude – DCMA adds true value to the NASA mission.”