Allison Wolff – Failure is an Option

The description below has been selected as one of 12 finalists for the Next Generation of Government Training Summit Speaker Contest. To vote, simply sign in to your GovLoop account (Not a member yet? Sign up for free now!) and then click the big ‘Awesome’ button at the bottom of the post. Everyone is encouraged to vote for as many lightning speakers as they deem worthy, but only one vote is allowed per description per profile, so don’t forget to tell your friends to offer their support as well!

Personal Information: Allison Wolff, Program Manager, NASA IT Labs

Title: Failure is an Option


Thomas Edison performed over 1,000 unsuccessful experiments before inventing the light bulb, but in the end something great and truly innovative was created. We take from this example a very important lesson: failure is an important part of the experimental process. But how do you fail efficiently?

NASA has worked hard to develop rigorous, iron-clad processes for developing everything from collaboration to mission control systems. While gate reviews and stringent examination is imperative—particularly when lives are on the line—this process-heavy approach leaves little room for the smaller “what if?” initiatives. To add to the challenge, how do we fund these potential “failures” while remaining accountable to our shareholders (e.g., the American taxpayer)?

IT Labs—the Technology and Innovation Division of NASA’s Office of the Chief Information Officer—was created in May 2011 to help encourage investment in innovation while maintaining a lightweight, efficient process for the integration of new information technologies.

Allison Wolff, the IT Labs Program Manager, has developed a new, streamlined process to make IT Labs NASA’s “innovation incubator”. By keeping the investments small, and the process streamlined, this small but effective program has already made great impact across the Agency and even the Federal sector including a formal pilot for NASA’s first Enterprise-wide cloud-based collaboration system and discoveries that have impacted the Federal Identity, Credential, and Access Management policy.

By reducing pitfalls, encouraging lessons learned in every phase and providing project managers with the tools to nurture ideas into potential technologies that all Agency users can benefit from, failure is an option, and what we learn can help prevent future failures and create a path to success.

Don’t forget to VOTE for this story by clicking the AWESOME BUTTON below.

Check out the other finalists stories:

Andre J. Castillo – “The Making of a Government Ninja: The Story of How a 25-year-old new Federal Employee Created His Own Empire and Became ‘Famous’.
Michael Gale – “Nature 3.0 – Using Technology to Connect People with Nature
Michael C. Lawyer & Anthony Soriano – “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bureaucracy
Joseph Linhart – “Rethinking the Federal Family
Kerry O’Connor – “Lessons from an Unconventional Career – Follow Your Curiousity, Transform Your Skills and Become a 21st Century Government Innovator
Emily Sadigh – “Put the “Action” in Your Action Plan
Sabrina Segal – “I’m the Superhero of Information Sharing
Teresa Shea – “A Journey Into Blindness: The Blind Professional
Leonard Sipes – “Accomplishing Public Relations Goals Through Podcasting and Social Media: Demystifying the Process
Tiffany Smith – “GovWhispering: How to Be an Effective Enterpreneur in a Bureaucratic Environment
Mark Sullivan – “Working Together for Our Veterans
Allison Wolff – “Failure is an Option

P.S. Hope to see you at the NextGen Training Summit, 7/26-27. 500+ Gen X/Y govies, topics from workplace savviness to public speaking, speakers from OMB to Olympic medal winners.

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