From Mission Control To Mission Connect: How NASA Is Repositioning Itself With Digital Transformation

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“A small step for a man. A giant leap for mankind.” This is still many people’s primary association with the National Aeronautics and Space Agency, better known as NASA. Having gained global recognition with its Apollo program, which led to first-man-on-the-moon Neil Armstrong’s infamous quote, the agency’s golden age is largely remembered as the 1960s, when funding peaked at 4.5% of the federal budget. Taking a deeper look into NASA’s evolution since then, however, reveals that much has happened and NASA has successfully reinvented itself through a concerted organizational change effort.

Despite tightened funding, increased global aerospace competition and collaboration, and an ever more complicated political and regulatory arena, NASA has gone from being a hierarchical, closed system to an open network organization, embracing collaboration and agility. In its next evolutionary phase, the agency is betting on digital transformation to power further progress. “In June 2020, we concluded that NASA’s open network approach requires us to rethink the way we more...