Search This Blog

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Next Step

Version one of your companies manual has been written. There are various chapters describing all of the groups, their roles and the roles of their members. There are details about communication and who has what responsibility. Now lets focus on what matter most to the company, the product or service. In the case of our fictional company, the product is a service where we help biotech companies stray from the status quo and start making real discoveries by following a path. This path quickly discards things that do not work. The path has the ability to identify things that are working and will work in the real life scenario.

The status quo tells us that PHds are the leaders and those who fell short of the PHd is the followers. However, our company employs purists. Our University system is not a group of vocational schools. If in fact the world were fair, leadership roles would employ the best leaders. If the University system selected for the best of the best, their PHds would compete for and win most of the leadership roles in a biotech company. As it is, a PHd is required for leadership positions. This precludes any chance of a newly minted PHd earning a leadership role in an environment very different from the one they previously succeeded in (college). The PHd is simply given a leadership role instead of being given a chance at earning it.

Let's consider a PHd who is hired to run a protein purification group. Developing methods and using cutting edge systems and leading others are not things taught in graduate school. Quite frankly, most University laboratories can't afford the same technology as industry. What is needed is a specialist. The medical field has long had specialized doctors who require a very different education from other MDs. A cardiac surgeon differs from a Gynecologist. The protein purification group requires a leader who also has a specialized education. There is little chance that a PHd will come out of the university properly educated to perform the tasks required by industry. Therefore the PHd must be taught. The manual will provide a path the new leader must take. He/she must learn how to develop, how the equipment and the operators work, and how to lead.

True leadership will not hire and hand over responsibility. The leaders will hire someone to fill the purification leadership role. They will then provide the education that is needed.

Finally, leadership requires something that most people just assume PHds do well. We assume PHds know how to communicate. We assume they speak and write in full sentences. Give this a test. Secretly record a conversation you have with a friend. Type out the words that are spoken and see how many proper sentences are spoken. The chances are there will be a correlation between education level and percentage of full sentences. But there will be many outliers who must be dealt with. The non-PHd who communicates well and understands methods must be promoted. The PHd who is the opposite must be demoted. This is a business model, not a PHd club.

To conclude todays topic, the University system is not a vocational system. Don't assume the answer to scientific discovery is the PHd. It's what the PHd does that leads to success not what they did in the past. You must provide them with the platform on which they will work. It's your company, not theirs. A biotech company shouldn't be started and left to succeed or fail by people who did not participate in the founding ideology of the company. They are just looking for a job like everyone else. It is the job of leaders to define the job and give the workers every chance at succeeding.

No comments: