Friday, February 22, 2008

"Think Like a Cockroach" or "Live like a Cockroach"?

National Institute of Health (NIH) grants are getting more and more difficult to get. Here at my institution, even seasoned scientists who had been getting grants for 10 years continuously are now faced with difficulty of getting funding.

I recently read an article on "The Scientist" magazine that I started subscribing when I joined my current lab. (It was free back then but they started charging couple years ago. I some how still manage to get free subscription by replying to the renewal notice.) The article titled "Think Like a Cockroach" is a very practical yet none humiliating advice. The key is to be creative and accept changes to get funded. There is nothing wrong to think like a cockroach as long as you don't live like one.

I have been taking some business related classes for the last couple of years and realized how much easier life would be if we (scientists) think a little bit more like business people.
For instance, when a project goes wrong we tend to stick on the course and tries to get somewhere by dumping more resources and time into that bad project.
In business world, when a project goes wrong and you realize it is going no where, you simply STOP and change course. Whatever is gone is gone (so called "sunk cost"). You do not make decision based on how much money and time you have already invested, but rather you determine what the out come will be.

I know grants are intended for specific projects and should be spent on those projects, but that does not mean we should waste more good money into projects.

Maybe it's time we start thinking about how we spend money?

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