Faster, Better, Cheaper Revisited: Program Management Lessons from NASA
Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisitions Integration Washington United States
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In 1992, NASA administrator Daniel Goldin began the agencys Faster, Better, Cheaper initiative. Over the next eight years, 16 missions were launched under the FBC banner, including the remarkable Mars Pathfinder mission. Today, however, many people look back at FBC with disparaging chuckles and wry remarks, as if it were an embarrassing failed experiment. Casual observers and serious students alike have apparently concluded that its impossible for a high-tech project to be simultaneously faster, better, and cheaper and that its foolish to even try. The popular consensus on FBC is often expressed in the supposedly self-evident saying Faster, better, cheaperpick two. It turns out popular consensus is wrong. A closer examination of NASAs FBC missions reveals an admirablerecord of success, along with helpful and illuminating lessons for anyone involved in developing and fielding high-tech systems. Far from an embarrassing failure or proof that program managers must pick two, the FBC initiative actually improved cost, schedule, and performance all at once. NASAs experience provides an insightful organizational roadmap for sustaining mission success while respecting constraints of time and funding.