Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Controlled by Ignorant Arm Chair Superiors

The systems of most bureaucratic organizations require indicators to monitor the progress and success of their projects. If the bosses are hands on individuals and the indicators are set in consultation with the researchers the procedure can be workable. Otherwise if you have someone breathing down your neck all the time life for the researcher can be miserable if not impossible. This often happens when there is not sufficient trust in the research worker. It is difficult enough in Scientific research to produce results. To be wired and haunted all the time should be applied only to staff doing routine work in collecting data or meeting set targets in production. Those who are expected to produce new knowledge or solutions through research should not be expected to be constantly checked. Such staff should be given opportunities to make decisions on their own.

For example, there are three types of supervisors supervising higher degree research students.

The type that spoon-feeds the students, make them report to them all the time to ensure that he produces enough data to pass. This approach tends to produce graduates will little initiative to decide when they are on their own. They do not normally make good, courageous and trusted leaders.

Those who are left to themselves to sink or swim. The survivors of this approach usually make good leaders who have proven that they can make decisions on their own. The casualty rate of this approach can be high.

The Great teachers leave their research students alone. They encourage the students to approach them only when the students have exhausted their abilities to move forward. Such students make great leaders later in their lives. We need more Great teachers to produce great students.

The above approaches should apply to all involved in research and even in the “normal” work. People usually give of their best when they know they are being trusted and will get help when needed. In return a researcher must show that he is passionate enough in doing what he is supposed to do and not give up at the first sign of possible trouble. Trust begets trust. Without trust no outstanding research can result.

Lee Kum Tatt

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