Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Your mission, should you choose to accept it...

By Dave Stevens, Marrella Communications
Written for the QUEST project team

I wondered, whilst reading Interdisciplinary Research Journeys, whether there is a recipe for managing the tensions in an interdisciplinary research team of academics and practitioners?

It brought to mind some of the so-called ‘men-on-a-mission movies’ that Hollywood is always pumping out, where a ragtag band of ‘specialists’ is thrown together to complete some near impossible quest.

Take the Guns of Navarone: a mountaineer, a chemistry professor and an assortment of military types are sent to destroy an impregnable fortress on top of an unscalable peak. But it is the intra-group conflicts, not the enemy, which nearly derails the mission.

I can’t help but think that, before setting off to the Aegean, Gregory Peck would have benefited from boning up on Chapter 4 ‘Making the Expedition a Success: Managing interdisciplinary projects and teams’.

As the book says, “effective management of an interdisciplinary team entails a continuous balancing act, in which individual participants are assured of endpoints meaningful to them and their careers while at the same time the group as a whole steadfastly pursues a joint vision that none could achieve alone”.

Poor old Gregory had to muddle through with just a stiff upper lip and a cynical David Niven for support.

However, the rest of us can have no such excuses as the authors of Interdisciplinary Research Journeys - Catherine Lyall, Ann Bruce, Joyce Tait and Laura Meagher - will be running a master class on Leadership Training for Interdisciplinary Environmental Initiatives on January 18-19.

For more information (and a booking form) for this FREE workshop, visit the ISSTI Interdisciplinary Wiki homepage.

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