Instead, I want to as you all for advice/opinions. I'm going to give you a real life decision I am trying to make and see what you think I should do. And then I'm going to go to bed and then disappear into an all day technical meeting tomorrow, about which I just tweeted:
All day technical meeting tomorrow is likely to get contentious, in friendly but time-wasting way. Srsly considering printing up red cards.
— Wandering Scientist (@wandsci) February 27, 2014
Two warnings for talking over someone else, then yellow card. Next infringement: red card and you have to suck on a lollipop for 10 mins.
— Wandering Scientist (@wandsci) February 27, 2014
And let you have at it in my comments section. I'll check in tomorrow night!
So here is my dilemma:
I have lots and lots of ideas about how to apply some of the project management techniques I have learned in software project management to lab work- particularly to research-y work, where people usually tell me that project management "won't work." I think a lab could take some of these techniques, experiment a bit to find the best way to use them in that particular environment, and get more productive, while the people worked fewer hours and were less stressed.
But I currently have no scope to explore these ideas at my job, and trust me- there will never be any scope for me to explore these ideas at my current job. That is fine, and not meant to disparage my job or my particular company, it is just a statement of how it is.
I've tried to put the ideas aside and just focus on refining my techniques for my current position, which involves developing scientific software.
But I can't. I want to tell the world about my ideas and see if they help or not. If they don't help, fine- but I really want to know that, and to think about why. What can I say? I'm a bit of a management geek. Anyway, I'm trying to decide how to get my ideas out there within the constraints in my situation, which are:
- No paying side gigs at my current job without executive committee approval. I am not kidding. I even have to get my children's books approved before I publish them, which amuses me so much that I may try to sneak something about drug discovery into a future story just to see what happens. I have an offer on the table to write about project management for another site, and I have been trying for months and months to get approval, and have not yet succeeded. I am beginning to think I may never succeed.
- However, my understanding of California law is that they can't really limit what I do on my own time for free, as long as I don't break any non-disclosure agreements I've signed. (Frankly, my understanding is that they are on shaky ground on #1, but I don't really want to find out in a court of law.)
- I make more than half of my family's income, and we cannot afford for me to just quit my job and pursue a new career in research project management. Anyway, there are almost no jobs in research project management in my area of scientific expertise- we don't tend to bring project management in until development phase.
- Try to line up a paying engagement as a consultant (in any capacity), then quit my job and pursue leads for consulting with scientists on project management. The downsides of this option are that my best leads for consultant work are people I know through my current job, and we are all skittish about me leaving my current job and going directly to one of them. Also, I am not at all convinced that any scientists would hire me to give them advice on project management- it has been close to 20 years since I was in a wet lab, and scientists tend to be convinced that only someone with recent experience in a field almost exactly identical to their own could possibly give them any ideas about how to run their research. I completely understand this impulse- a lot of people come in with no real understanding of how research works and make truly ridiculous pronouncements about "what scientists should do" and how are they to know I am any different?
- Start writing about my project management ideas here on Wandering Scientist. The downsides of this are that I don't currently associate my real name directly with this blog, and I'd like these ideas out there attached to my real name. Also, I don't want to stop writing about all of the other random things I write about, and I think that might dilute the project management message.
- Start writing about my project management ideas on a new blog. The downsides of this are that I think I could only manage to post once or twice per month, which might not be frequent enough to build an audience. Could I really keep THREE blogs going? I'm not sure, and I don't want to abandon this blog or Tungsten Hippo. Also, I'd need to come up with a new blog name and I suck at naming things. If I go with this option, I think I'd link to posts on New Blog here, much like I do with Tungsten Hippo. I don't mind having my name peripherally associated with this blog now, perhaps because I have stopped caring so much if the dudes in my industry decide I'm unhireable. This may not be the smartest thing, but it is true. I have no idea what I'd do about Twitter, though. I did snag a handle that would work for my real name way back before I even set up the @wandsci account. But I really don't think I want to try to run three twitter feeds, so maybe I'd acknowledge both blogs on @wandsci? Would I link to the @wandsci twitter feed from New Blog? I don't know. I find thinking through all the ramifications of this option a bit headache-inducing, really.