Opening Keynote: Mission Critical Agility
Jeff Norris, Planning Software Systems Group - NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Whether it is controlling interplanetary spacecraft, managing medical records, or "merely" staying in business, it seems like more of us are facing the pressure of building and managing mission-critical systems and teams. It's tempting to think that reliability is all that matters, but we're also forced to adapt to constantly advancing technologies, shifting priorities, and relentless competitive pressures. What can we learn about agility from great inventors and explorers who risked everything to change the world? Is it wise to embrace innovation and take risks when so much is at stake? Can you afford to be agile when failure is not an option, or can you afford not to?
Five years ago, Dr. Norris founded the JPL OPS Lab, an advanced agile development facility for the design, development, and deployment of mission-critical software and human-robot interaction technologies. In the OPS Lab, he pioneered an innovative approach to software development within NASA that emphasizes teamwork and innovation. This approach has earned the team numerous awards and a consistent record of success across a broad variety of projects. He has also been a driving force behind the use of open source software within NASA’s missions.
In addition to leading the development of one of the key pieces of operations software for the Spirit and Opportunity Mars Exploration Rover Mission, Dr. Norris helped operate both rovers as a Tactical Activity Planner during the prime mission. In this role, he integrated the daily plan of action for the rover from the mission engineering and science teams and ensured that mission objectives were being met within the available resources of the spacecraft. His efforts on the mission earned him a NASA Honor award “for Outstanding Contribution to the Success of the Mars Exploration Rover Mission.”
In 2009, Dr. Norris received the Lew Allen Award for Excellence, JPL’s highest honor for an innovator in the early years of his/her career, “for exemplary vision, innovation and leadership in fundamentally advancing the capabilities for scientific involvement in planning operations on NASA's missions.” He also led the team that was co-winner of the 2004 NASA Software of the Year Award, NASA’s highest software award, and has received many other accolades for excellence in research, leadership, and public outreach.