National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Glenn Research Center

Jay Pittman

The 2nd annual OAI “Lessons Learned” Symposium featured keynote speaker Jay Pittman, Wallops Flight facility Chief of Range and Mission Management Office. In a lecture entitled “The Dragon Tamer,” Mr. Pittman highlighted an important lesson learned through a recent NASA test mishap to express the importance of speaking out. Although NASA has succeeded in almost all its efforts, it has had its share of accidents and pitfalls. As Jay pointed out, silence can sometimes be detrimental to mission success and unidentified problems give birth to a dragon.

He stressed the necessity of team members, regardless of age or experience, to identify potential problems and flaws in mission/project architecture. If ignored, minute issues could develop into fatal mistakes. A spirit of timidity can have harmful repercussions that may have easily been avoided by simply questioning an ambiguous strategy or method. Overcoming obstacles such as hierarchical structure and authority are the first steps in taming the dragon. In taming the dragon, impediments in mission success are diminished. Thus, be a dragon tamer.