Manage to make science easier! That has been my tag line ever since I started consulting. It took me a few months to come up with one unifying objective. As a manager, this became my focus for helping science. The book by Simon Sinek, Start with Why – How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, helped me to formulate this unifying idea of management and its core purpose. I want to make the process of scientific discovery easier, because I believe in science.
Science is already hard enough on its own. So why make it harder? This leads me to the point of this blog post. The objective of management is to make the process of science easier. Its purpose is to not make it efficient, nor effective, nor even economical, but easier. It’s to create an environment that allows the objectives to flow. In our case, it’s the scientific discoveries.
Considering the current economic woes, I see further disconnect between science and business. The business administrative arm of science doesn’t have a clear idea as to what the core objectives are. So therefore it falters in providing useful processes and support. In contrast, the scientific arm lacks discipline to manage its resources. Then again, it shouldn’t have to. That’s the duty of business administration.
I used to struggle with managing scientific personnel. I later found that scientists should be compared to that of artists, musicians, or any other creative professional. They love to do science. So I should let them do science. But how was I to do that without wasting precious resources?
I have a great friend in the music industry who manages successful recording artists. Years ago, he told me the source of my frustrations lie within me. I was trying to manage the people. What I needed to do, was to manage the environment.
In Jim Collin’s book, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Other Don’t, he states that a leader’s job isn’t to motivate the people, but to NOT DE-motive them. He cited the administrative bureaucracy was one of the primary causes for why great talents would leave an organization.
When you have a team of talented scientists, you have great opportunity toward fostering their contributions. So my advice to the management is to make science easier for them. How can you do that? Simple. Ask a scientist if his/her job is easier because of the administrative support services. For more analytical business people, measure the data/ publication output or the grant award renewals. Have a mix of these type of metrics; talent input and discovery outputs. These strategies can help to fuel scientific discoveries, which in turn, ensures business growth. A winning strategy for all.