NASA CIO Meeting: Connecting with Dot

The NASA CIOs had another intense and successful offsite meeting to move closer to resolution of pervasive IT problems that plague the agency.  We also made significant progress in implementing the tenets of our IT Strategy soon to be finalized by Acting CIO Bobby German.

I couldn’t help but reflect on the significant leadership moment that occurred with our friend and colleague Dot Swanson, Deputy CIO of NASAs Johnson Space Center.  Courageous and tenacious, Dot seldom has trouble finding her voice.  To the extent that in our afterhours networking and teambuilding session, the other NASA CIOs and Deputies bet her that she couldn’t be quiet for the whole day.  Pictured here are the items thrown in the pool: a wallet, two pair of reading glasses, $22, a $25 Target gift card, a cell phone, a blackberry, an iPod, a health insurance card, a man-bracelet, and a Washington, DC Metro Smartcard.  Too bad our other colleague Ames Research Center CIO, Chris Kemp couldn’t be there.  Even I would have kept my mouth shut for his watch!JSC Deputy CIO Dot Swanson admires her potential windfall

It was a little scary at first.  After all, I had the blackberry, iPod, Smartcard, and gift card at risk.  But, after a morning full of carbohydrates and caffeine, Dot found her voice again and we all safely retained our valuables. 

I thought about how Dot’s voice was such an important and valuable addition to Team CIO.  Her perspectives and her willingness to speak up are important ingredients to implementing complex and risky projects.  She has three key attributes which the book Crucial Conversations (Patterson, et. al.) says are required to speak the unspeakable yet still maintain respect – confidence, humility, and skill.

Confidence — where she has the courage to say what needs to be said.  Humility — where she is not only willing to express her own thoughts and opinions, but also encourages others to do the same.  And finally, she is a skilled communicator. 

Once you’ve found your own voice, the choice to expand your influence, to increase your contribution, is the choice to inspire others to find their voice. Inspire (from the Latin inspirare) means to breathe life into another. As we recognize, respect and create ways for others to give voice to all four parts of their nature–physically, mentally, emotionally/socially, spiritually–latent human genius, creativity, passion, talent and motivation are unleashed. It will be those organizations that reach a critical mass of people and teams expressing their full voice that will achieve next-level breakthrough in productivity, innovation and leadership in the market place and society. – Stephen Covey

Connecting with Dot reminded me of the importance of all of that.  She is truly an inspiration.

Linda Cureton, CIO, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

2 thoughts on “NASA CIO Meeting: Connecting with Dot”

  1. Hi Linda,

    It’s very inspiring and interesting and people like is us really need this kind of inspiration to keep going with life by facing all challenges.


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