Roger Forsgren on Knowledge Management Lessons from NASA (#023)

About Roger Forsgren

Roger Forsgren served as the Chief Knowledge Office (CKO) of NASA from 2013 to 2021. As CKO, he led NASA’s Knowledge Management efforts, ensuring that the agency’s workforce had access to the critical knowledge needed for mission success. 

He also served as Director of the NASA Academy of Program/Project & Engineering Leadership, internally known as APPEL, the agency’s education and training program in the fields of Project Management, Systems Engineering, Engineering, and Leadership Development.  

Roger most recently is the author of the book, Lean Knowledge Management: How NASA Implemented a Practical KM Program, where he lays out the principles, tactics, and strategies he implemented at NASA during his tenure as the Chief Knowledge Officer.

Roger holds two Bachelors degrees, one in History from Georgetown University and one in Engineering from Cleveland State University. He also obtained a Masters Degree in Engineering from Cleveland State University.

Listen to the Episode

This Episode is also available on: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Anchor.FM

  1. Connect with Roger
    1. LinkedIn
  2. Roger’s NASA Profile
  3. Articles and Papers written by Roger
    1. Lessons from Lincoln
    2. The ICB: Recognizing and Rewarding Innovation
    3. Developing the Technical Workforce
    4. Unique Education & Workforce Development for NASA Engineers
    5. The Architecture of Evil
  4. NASA – National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    1. Website
    2. Wikipedia
    3. APPEL Knowledge Services
  5. The Butterfly Effect
  6. Calculus
  7. Lessons Learned Database
    1. Lessons Learned Repositories (via APPEL Knowledge Services)
    2. NASA Public Lessons Learned System
  8. Werner von Braun
  9. Saturn V
  10. Space Shuttle Columbia Disaster
  11. Apollo 11
  12. Space Shuttle Challenger

Show Notes

On the relationship between the Butterfly Effect and a well-managed Knowledge Management (KM) Program [03:53 – 05:15]

On how KM Practices differ at a Large Organization vis-a-vis a Startup [06:00 – 08:09]

On the relationship between History and Knowledge Management [08:43 – 13:08]

On how poor KM practices result in the loss of Knowledge from a Historical Perspective [13:45 – 17:36]

On Academic Texts versus Blueprints [18:23 – 22:06]

Roger’s experience in running the Knowledge Management practice at NASA [22:35 – 25:27]

How Knowledge Management changes Culture [26:29 – 40:05]

On why Return-on-Mission-Success is a more powerful metric compared to Return-on-Investment [41:04 – 46:18]

Lessons Roger learnt when transitioning from the Liberal Arts to Engineering [47:02 – 54:15]

On the origins of the Lessons Learned Database [55:00 – 01:00:29]

On Cognitive Biases and how they affect Decision-Making [01:00:53 – 01:05:55]

On the Power of Good Documentation [01:06:44 – 01:10:53]

Thoughts on the Application and Impact of eLearning versus In-Person Learning [01:11:45 – 01:18:21]

Reflections on America’s Space Endeavours and Ambitions in Today’s World [01:19:35 – 01:23:34]

Advice Roger would give a Young Person at University today [01:23:50 – 01:25:54]

On Roger’s Favourite Books [01:26:00 – 01:27:02]

What ‘successful’ means to Roger [01:27:13 – 01:29:08]

Roger’s Dream Dinner Party [01:29:16 – 01:30:48]

The best piece of advice Roger has ever received [01:30:58 – 01:31:56]

A Guest Roger would like to see featured on ContraMinds [01:32:05 – 01:33:54]

  1. Engineering and The Mind’s Eye – Eugene Ferguson
    1. Paperback
    2. Hardcover
  2. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking  – Susan Cain
    1. Paperback
    2. Kindle
    3. TED Talk

Enjoy the Episode on YouTube

Lean Knowledge Management

Buy the Book

Lean Knowledge Management Helped Change NASA’s Culture and It Can Do the Same for Your Organization.

NASA suffered three human spaceflight tragedies and Lean Knowledge Management was a major tool that helped NASA management implement massive cultural changes.

Traditional knowledge management is too often regarded as overly complicated or a wasteful bureaucratic exercise, but Lean Knowledge Management can become a critical component for your organization to operate effectively, efficiently and safely.

Lean Knowledge Management simplifies the process by:

  • Clearly defining your organization’s key employees,
  • Filtering the enormous amount of internal “information” into “critical knowledge”.
  • Utilizing a myriad of resources to get this critical knowledge to the people who need it most – the very people that can make your organization successful.

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