Every science organisation wants to deliver excellent science, right? Nobody sets out to be mediocre, but mediocrity often creeps in. True, not all science can be excellent all the time, but having a culture of excellence across the organisation can go a long way to improving the average quality of the science produced. How can everyone contribute to this?
Use a science excellence filter.
It’s simple, really: for every decision made or action taken ask the question ‘how does this support the delivery of excellent science?’
This needs to happen throughout the organisation – not just with scientists. It also needs everyone to understand what it takes to deliver excellent science, and what gets in the way of that. It requires a service mindset.
A Team Manager might think: Is this team meeting helping to create a community that supports each scientist to do their best work? If not, what will make it deliver on this, or is it unnecessary?
An IT project team might consider: How does rolling out this new software support excellent science? Do the scientists agree? If not, what do we need to do to make sure it works for them?
A Project Delivery Manager might check: Does this reporting structure help my scientists do their best? Or does it create unnecessary extra work for them because it overlaps with another reporting structure?
A Scientist might decide: To keep up the quality of my thinking I really need to keep on top of the literature. I’m going to set aside a few hours in my calendar every week to do this and show my student how to do my data entry to save myself some time.
Yes, it’s simple. But it’s not always easy. Excellence requires discipline. By creating a culture that allows everyone to make the hard decisions that favour excellence, and for everyone to be in service of this greater goal, you can create an organisation that attracts and retains talented scientists and has a reputation for excellence.