A Marketplace for Talent

 

NASA’s Future of Work highlights insights, challenges and tangible opportunities for NASA.  Among the identified opportunities are incentivizing employees’ lifelong learning through internal career mobility opportunities, and supporting managers in matching talent to task when the need arises.  To address these identified opportunities, NASA developed and recently launched an agencywide internal job listing and candidate selection platform called the Talent Marketplace.  

Through NASA’s Talent Marketplace employees now have access to a wider range of internal career development opportunities at their center and across NASA.  Research shows that access to opportunities and internal mobility motivates employees, provides for a better experience and builds engagement throughout an organization.  Leading companies leverage an internal talent marketplace to motivate, develop and retain a strong workforce.   

The Talent Marketplace also supports managers in matching talent to task.  Managers can identify and create flexible, targeted opportunities based on skills, grade, onsite or remote location and more.  Opportunities in NASA’s Talent Marketplace are currently identified as noncompetitive,  internal details, short-term/part-time assignments, lateral reassignments and leadership development programs.  All competitive opportunities are posted through the federal government’s USAJobs website.    

NASA’s Talent Marketplace  aligns with The Future of Work, particularly with Theme 3 and Theme 4.

Theme 3: Learning and Developing for a Lifetime  

NASA’s Talent Marketplace improves the transparency and accessibility for opportunities across the agency.  This means that employees now have access to a wider range of lifetime development opportunities at their center and across NASA.  By partaking in such opportunities employees can increase their skills, expand their network, work across agency projects, and apply their expertise to advance the NASA mission.  

Managers can also play a pivotal role in their employees’ lifetime development by leveraging the platform.  When a manager identifies an available frequency in the employee’s time, or recognizes a skill gap in the employee’s profile, they can use the Talent Marketplace as a resource when discussing development opportunities.

Theme 4: Deploying Talent; Mobilizing Careers 

The Talent Marketplace supports breaking down center barriers and stovepipe operations, and enhances the culture of employee mobility, engagement and innovation required to achieve the NASA mission. Managers can identify and create flexible, targeted opportunities based on skills, grade, onsite or remote location and more. They can select from internal candidates from across the agency and can also use the Talent Marketplace as a resource when discussing development opportunities with employees. 

As of this writing, support from across the agency is strong and opportunities are being posted by all centers in the Talent Marketplace.  We will continue to engage the agency and enhance the platform to meet users’ needs. Stay tuned! We’ll report back progress and findings. 

About the Authors

Wilson M. Claure | Wilson finds novel ways to deliver human-centered outcomes. As a management consultant for LMI he has the privilege of supporting federal clients in delivering their innovation projects.

Kathleen McBride |Kathleen has provided program support to NASA for several years, including human capital project management, change management and strategic communications. 

Nick Skytland | Nick has pioneered new ways of doing business in both government and industry for nearly two decades. He leads the Future of Work initiative at NASA and is the Agency Talent and Technology Strategist in the Talent Strategy and Engagement Division within the Office of the Chief Human Capital Officer (OCHCO).

Conclusions for the Future of Work

We live in a time of volatility, complexity, and transition, and it is here to stay. Between technological advancements, demands for re-defined careers and for work–personal life balance, the next decade will see a transformation in the way we work, learn and explore. Sweeping global forces are already reshaping the workplace, the workforce, and work itself. The nature of work, even in the traditionally slow-changing government environment, is increasingly dynamic. Projects are multifaceted and interdisciplinary with requirements rapidly emerging in the midst of team-based collaboration in virtual environments. 

The shift is not just generational: most people are experiencing an increase in complexity and pace in a world that is more interconnected and dependent than ever before, and their expectations have changed. Our workforce is more geographically dispersed, the organizational structures are flatter, responsibilities are matrixed, and work structures are more complex. Individuals want modern places to work, both physically and virtually, enabling flexible and team-based work to thrive. To navigate this time of tumult and uncertainty, NASA will need new strategies for resilience and adaptation. 

The uniqueness of the compelling NASA mission, the experience of the existing workforce, and the promise of secure virtual talent marketplaces are the avenues where NASA may begin to uncover new opportunities to recruit top talent. NASA is embracing this change and accepting the challenge to innovate in order to retain, attract, and engage the next generation of talent. To lead this shift and re-conceptualize the Future of Work, NASA must begin intentionally developing a multidisciplinary talent pipeline, lean-in to a new definition of careers, and amplify the definition of working for NASA to meet the needs of ever-evolving work. At the same time, the Agency may fully leverage the benefits of skills-based learning and reward the growth and development achievements of interdisciplinary talent and agile teams. 

The response to this study is a call to action. Before this study was completed, the Talent Strategy and Engagement Division initiated steps to pursue policy revisions, identify new hiring authorities, create a new people analytics capability, implement an agency-wide talent marketplace and begin the design of an entirely new personnel system. The Talent Strategy and Engagement Division will remain focused on these bold efforts, while prioritizing initiatives that champion career creation, growth, and mobility based on the results and findings from this study. Each initiative or program will seek to align with goals to tackle the challenges and seize the opportunities uncovered from this body of work. The resulting shift will be a tremendous step forward for both NASA and our people: it will provide employees with opportunities to design and grow their own experience, which will help attract and engage a thriving workforce; and it will help our organization identify and more efficiently address critical talents, skills, and capabilities needed across the Agency. Overall, this approach will require us to become more agile and customer-focused and shift structures from traditional, functional models toward interconnected, flexible teams composed of committed, engaged, and inspired people. 

Unleashing Algorithms, Analytics, AI and Automation

At the intersection of the two forces of mission and technology is NASA’s need to embrace automation, algorithms, analytics, and artificial intelligence to transform human capital programs and services. Advances in technology will allow organizations to better organize and distribute work tasks to qualified individuals, replacing or outsourcing others and generally augmenting the existing workforce. As machines continue to perform tasks and replace certain human functions, replacing organizations will be able to more efficiently assess real-time data, assign responses, allocate tasks based on assessment, streamline knowledge driven processes, and enable more objective decision-making. NASA is developing advanced technical capabilities in automation, algorithms, analytics, and artificial intelligence. NASA has established a People Analytics capability to establish core tools, identify data sources, define a data architecture, address data privacy and data governance concerns and develop new data-driven insights to inform decision making.

INSIGHTS
Drawing upon fields as disparate as computer science, cognitive psychology, philosophy, neurology, and others, technology is a rapidly emerging from the realm of technological research and being applied in government. These changes are fueled by the advancements in automation, algorithms, analytics and artificial intelligence. This technology is distributing and redistributing work tasks to qualified individuals, replacing or outsourcing others, and generally serving to augment the workforce. This reality opens up incredible new possibilities that will inevitably transform the future of work.

Research reveals 76 percent of respondents believe that cognitive technologies will “substantially transform” their companies within the next three years (Deloitte Bersin, 2018). As machines start to think and act more like humans, the promise is that organizations will be able to more quickly and efficiently assess real-time data, assign responses, and allocate tasks based on automated assessment (Centre for Public Impact, 2017).

The application of such technologies will move from simply delivering services more efficiently or informing decision making to ultimately augmenting the role of humans in the workplace. Studies predict that as many as 47 percent of all US jobs may be automated within the next 20 years (Osborne, 2018).

CHALLENGES
The automation revolution has huge potential to transform NASA, but significant technical, legal, and policy issues exist related to tools and technology. NASA’s ability to adopt new technology is limited and access to data is hampered by systems that are siloed and poorly integrated. NASA must accelerate efforts to modernize the Human Capital IT (HCIT) landscape to address the lack of access to data, tools, and technology and realize the performance advancements promised through AI, automation, and analytics. Further, NASA must prepare it’s workforce to embrace the implementation of new technologies.

OPPORTUNITIES
Embracing the automation, algorithms, analytics, and artificial intelligence could unleash powerful possibilities for NASA. Machine learning algorithms can be used to spot trends in pattern recognition and avoid past mistakes. Natural language processing can improve onboarding and personnel management. Automation can streamline internal processes, including those related to document classification, discovery, retrieval and content moderation;. Artificial intelligence can inform decision making and be used to improve resume evaluation and performance review. Each of these possibilities are within Agency reach. NASA has established a People Analytics capability to establish core tools, identify data sources, define a data architecture, address data privacy and data governance concerns and develop new data-driven insights to inform decision making.

About the Authors

Nick Skytland | Nick has pioneered new ways of doing business in both government and industry for nearly two decades. He leads the Future of Work initiative at NASA and is the Agency Talent and Technology Strategist in the Talent Strategy and Engagement Division within the Office of the Chief Human Capital Officer (OCHCO).

Digital Transformation

At the intersection of mission, technology, and place is NASA’s need to modernize for a digital-forward future. Digitalization, the process of moving toward digital business, is occurring everywhere and remains an ongoing process across the federal government. Digital transformation leads to more informed decisions, increased operational efficiency, and streamlined processes.

INSIGHTS

Today, we are witnessing the disruption of almost all processes, practices, and industries by digital technology. Digitalization, the process of moving toward digital business (we acknowledge that digitalization, digitization, and digital transformation are often used interchangeably) is occurring everywhere. Digitalization remains an ongoing process across the federal government; in the coming decade, digital transformation is likely to be the most important factor in reshaping government. Yet the government (and public policy) are far behind the rate of change.

Since NASA’s initial digital strategy was developed in 2015, the Agency has continued to work toward “changing the way we do business,” and has become more information-centric, customer-centric, and platform-driven while attempting to balance the pull of security and privacy concerns. Such changes continue to disrupt NASA, enabling new insights and new possibilities.

CHALLENGES

Digital transformation requires more than accessing the appropriate digital tools. A limited ability to adopt or train on new technology, siloed systems, and restrictive data policies stand in the way of NASA’s imperative ability to prepare for a digital-forward future. Organizations not readily embracing digital-first mindsets or “automate everything” mantras will no longer be compatible with the future, much less the work or workforce. Without taking steps toward digital business, NASA risks losing reductions, resources, and ultimately relevance: digital business reaps reductions realized through cost saving on appropriately managing/refreshing IT investments and automating across organizational processes and digitalization frames resources to more effectively utilize and allocate while eliminating waste. Digital transformation is a non-negotiable to remain relevant in attracting critical talent and keeping pace with competitors and partners setting modernization cadence.

OPPORTUNITIES

Disruptions through technological breakthroughs and rapid adoption of new technology are requiring the government to respond or be left behind. Truly transforming NASA through digital technologies will be a journey, but one worth taking.

NASA must collectively assess its digital readiness posture; immediate actions may include  developing a more streamlined approach to evaluate, adopt and procure modern technology and activating a concentrated effort to improve the digital user experience for employees by providing a simple, clear user experience, starting with Human Capital services and platforms. To bring this opportunity to life, consider the dramatic change from filling out tax returns before the online, automated, user friendly TurboTax swept the nation. People even called completing their taxes fun! NASA could adopt the strategy that no new service or tool will be delivered to our managers and employees without this sort of TurboTax interface experience.

NASA must also consider the digital competencies of the workforce. Agency investments in the technology and tools necessary for digitalization are only as valuable as the employees able to access and innovate through their use. Any emerging Agency talent strategy must include the necessity for digital competencies—upskilling, procuring, and refreshing these essential talents to continuously propel the Agency forward.

About the Authors

Nick Skytland | Nick has pioneered new ways of doing business in both government and industry for nearly two decades. He leads the Future of Work initiative at NASA and is the Agency Talent and Technology Strategist in the Talent Strategy and Engagement Division within the Office of the Chief Human Capital Officer (OCHCO).

 

Confidentiality, Integrity, Availability

Let’s talk about the CIA. The CIA is such an incredibly important part of security, and it should always be talked about. You’re probably thinking to yourself “but wait, I came here to read about NASA!”- and you’re right. While the CIA is a pretty cool organization too, I’ll be talking about the CIA triad – and what it means to NASA.

The CIA triad, not to be confused with the Central Intelligence Agency, is a concept model used for information security. CIA stands for confidentiality, integrity, and availability. It is common practice within any industry to make these three ideas the foundation of security.  

When we consider what the future of work looks like, some people will ambitiously say “flying cars” and “robots taking over”. More realistically, this means teleworking, or working from home. When you’re at home, you need access to your data. How can an employer securely share all that data? That’s the million dollar question that, if I had an answer to, security companies globally would be trying to hire me.

How does the workforce ensure it is prepared to shift to this future mindset, and where does the CIA triad come into the picture?

Every company is a technology company. Even NASA. Especially NASA!  In fact, NASA relies on technology to complete their vision to “reach for new heights and reveal the unknown for the benefit of humankind”. Imagine doing that without a computer. That would be a little ridiculous, right? Furthering knowledge and humankind requires data!

One of NASA’s technology related missions is “to enable the secure use of data to accomplish NASA’s Mission”. Let’s break that mission down using none other than the CIA triad.

C – Confidentiality. Confidentiality essentially means privacy. Making sure only the people who require access to data have access, while also making sure that everyone who needs the data is able to access it. In a NASA example: we need to make sure software developer Joe can access his important work regarding the International Space Station from home, while janitor Dave is never allowed to access this data.

I – Integrity. Is this data the correct data? That’s what integrity means. Making sure no bits were lost, making sure no web address was changed, and even making sure that unauthorized people cannot change your data. Another NASA example: software developer Joe asked his friend, janitor Dave, to save his code for him. In the process, Dave maliciously saved some other piece of code with the name of what Joe needed. The next time Joe opened his “code”, he was locked out of his computer.

A – Availability. This one seems pretty self-explanatory; making sure your data is available. Remember last week when YouTube went offline and caused mass panic for about an hour? In a perfect iteration of the CIA triad, that wouldn’t happen. Things like having the correct firewall settings, updating your system regularly, backups of your data, documenting changes, and not having a single point of failure in your network are all things that can be done to promote availability. A last NASA example: software developer Joe really wants to eat lunch on his center, but he cannot access the website that tells him what food options there are. He is frustrated by the lack of availability of this data.

NASA (and any other organization) has to ensure that the CIA triad is established within their organization. Whether it’s a small business personally implementing their policies or it is a global network of many IT employees, data is crucial. Without data, humankind would never be the same. Imagine a world without computers. No more gas pumps, cash registers, ATMs, calculators, cell phones, GPS systems… even our entire infrastructure would soon falter. Electricity, plumbing, hospitals, and air travel all rely on a computer- even many cars do! Without data, or with data in the wrong hands, society and culture would change so drastically that you and I would never be able to recognize it.

This is why designing for sharing and security is such a paramount concept. The data needs to exist; there is no question. Data must be shared. But if data falls into the wrong hands, janitor Dave might just steal your data and crash the International Space Station… in your name.

About the Authors

Emma Kanning is an intern at NASA’s Johnson Space Center working in the Avionic Systems Division focused on Wireless Communication; specifically the integration of IoT devices with LTE.  Emma attends Kent State University and will graduate in 2021 with a degree in Digital Sciences. Emma is passionate about STEM education and cyber security. She participates in Civil Air Patrol and FIRST Robotics, and loves photography and writing.

Nick Skytland | Nick has pioneered new ways of doing business in both government and industry for nearly two decades. He leads the Future of Work initiative at NASA and is the Agency Talent and Technology Strategist in the Talent Strategy and Engagement Division within the Office of the Chief Human Capital Officer (OCHCO).