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Culture Wars

By: Marie Alice Dibon
Posted: January 5, 2010, from the January 2010 issue of GCI Magazine.

page 5 of 12

But it is still doable. For instance, if a lab has significant means and spends time on research projects that are not product-related, it is not outrageous to demand that it publishes in order to assess the number of publications and citations.

Not all labs do advanced biological research. Most focus on applications and delivering prototypes to marketing. But applications do not mean that creativity is not required. There is room for research and, thus, productivity in a creative pursuit of applications, and publishing—at any level—is a worthwhile measure of a lab’s creativity. To achieve balance between creativity in the lab and measurable output, first, set realistic goals for sample batches per day, for example, in order to leave some room for creativity. Allow a creative exploration of processes, formulation, new ingredients sourcing, etc. The findings from this creative exploration will, quite possibly, proffer results that justify the time expense. Moreover, time allows for creative exploration—and the identification of those who excel in the creative space and those who prefer a more structured environment. Roles can then be redistributed, and people find their niche inside the lab. This offers further benefits—happy employees are productive employees.

Assessment of how on target a lab is on delivering prototypes—in terms of time and specifications—is a good way to look at its productivity, but it is important to keep an eye on the creativity of this unit. And it is everyone’s business. This assessment is a team’s assessment, not an individual’s. The final goals should be determined by the group, and the group should be responsible for them.

At the same time, expense and process controls should also apply to marketing, and there may be ways to incentivize those controls.

On the expense side, how many innovative, money-saving tools has the marketing team brought for evaluation in the last year? How many on the team have tried to get away from business as usual and have actually taken risks on new technologies, new sources and smaller yet more agile vendors? Question those efforts and that team, and reward those behaviors.