- Paperback: 176 pages
- Publisher: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press; 1 edition (October 24, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0879698160
- ISBN-13: 978-0879698164
- Product Dimensions: 9.9 x 0.5 x 7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 7 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,371,798 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Lab Dynamics: Management Skills for Scientists 1st Edition
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...a concisely written book designed to provide scientists, in a variety of settings, a comprehensive skill set for surviving other scientists and the pressures of the work place. The book is written to appeal to a range of scientists from beginning trainees to seasoned professionals. Importantly, the authors provide real world examples of personal interactions between scientists in jobs covering a broad scope of work settings...Scientists who work in settings ranging from industry, government, or academia will likely find the book interesting and useful...This first edition book was developed from the authors' considerable experiences as scientists and consultants in academia and in the private sector. The book is easily read and holds the interest of the reader with amusing anecdotes, clever quotes, and real world examples and tables that summarize each chapter. --Veterinary Pathology
Lab Dynamics is a highly understandable and practical book that equips the reader with the basics for developing the requisite soft skills that can significantly enhance technical productivity and promote career satisfaction and advancement.... --Clinical Chemistry
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I found an excerpt from Chapter 4 of this book, and I was curious about what the authors had to say about laboratory management. It's nice to see that someone recognizes that scientists need management skills! But that's about it as far as positives. I can see that the descriptions and recommended approaches would probably be an enormous improvement in a lot of academic labs, as well as science/tech start-ups where those in charge have not had any formal management training -- in other words, in places where egos and bad behavior abound and professionalism is rarer than unicorns. But in the excerpt I read, the examples of how to handle the situations described would be the bare minimum effort anywhere else.
The example given with Ralph and his team and then placing the blame on all involved is rather appalling. From the minimal description of the scenario, nowhere was it stated that Ralph did his due diligence as a manager and investigated the reasons why two of his employees did not trust the data of the third employee. It is very easy to read that scenario in terms of Ralph as the manager who does not ask for employee input, is not open to employee input when they do give it, and supports the Golden Boy in the lab at the expense of the integrity of his other employees -- a scenario which I have seen too many times before in both labs and other workplace settings.
And the advice presented in other scenarios was just as weak. If you see that one of your employees is constantly getting interrupted in meetings, why aren't you, as a manager and leader, calling out that behavior in the meeting and taking steps to ensure that all of your employees get to speak and be heard? Instead, the advice given is to encourage the employee in question to become more assertive, which effectively relieves the manager of any responsibility and places it all back on the employee. This is even more problematic in that this is advice given to a female employee. It is the norm in STEM for women to be interrupted and ignored, and when on rare occasions they are heard, they have their ideas and opinions trivialized or dismissed. Yeah, you can put it all back on her to be more aggressive in trying to speak during meetings, but don't for one second believe that you support women in STEM. (Applies to other marginalized groups in STEM, too.) A good manager would make it a point to allow the female employee speak uninterrupted, as well as all the other employees (some of the male employees may be having the same problem, y'know?) equally. A good manager would recognize that the problem is the employee(s) who are speaking over others, not the employee(s) who are not being heard, and take action as a leader during meetings.
Ultimately, the advice given in the excerpt I read might as well be a pantomime of managing, while in practice, it is the "leaving the employees to work it out themselves" that the authors start the chapter advocating against. Based on the excerpt, I'd never buy this book, but if I could find it in a library, I'd at least take a look to see if the advice gets any better. Perhaps this book would be a suitable introduction to very basic management skills for scientists who will only listen to management advice from another scientist -- these are the people who could not care less about being a good manager, but might want tips on reducing the stress they themselves experience, and maybe they'd act a bit better as managers in the process. For anyone who aspires to be a good manager -- which is not an either/or choice with being a scientist -- there surely have to be better books on the topic of managing people and working with others that, while written for the typical business environment, are still applicable to a laboratory or academic environment. People are people, regardless.
Even though some of these principles can also be found in other business and management books, they have never been discussed with a focus on the research and academic setting. The examples from the business world are often very different from the every day struggles a scientist has to face. For example, no other book will show you ways to negotiate for the first authorship of a publication. LAB DYNAMICS really helps with its detailed analysis and Dr. Cohen's perspectives as a scientist.
LAB DYNAMICS is particularly useful for doctoral students and postdocs who face many of these challenges frequently without much mentoring on the subject matter. In addition, each chapter has an excellent reference list where additional reading can be found to solve specific issues.
BTW, this book has been one of the most sought-after titles at MIT libraries. People often have to wait for 1-2 months in queue to get it.