Following up on my last post about lessons learned, this brief post is about the need for collaboration. Lessons learned are meaningless unless they are collected from a diverse set of projects – and teams that tend to work in silos tend to ignore those well-collected lessons.
So collaboration is key.
That’s why this article from Nature, entitled “Science Weathers Political Ill Wind” caught my attention.
It focuses, of course, on science, but it is very project-oriented: in fact, the second word of the article is “projects”.
Some projects are too big for a single lab. Or, for that matter, a single country. Hongkui Zeng, a neuroscientist at the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle, Washington, is working on an ambitious project that spans the Pacific. Her team is attempting to untangle the subtle structural differences among groups of neurons in the mouse neocortex, where higher cognitive functioning such as sensory perception and spatial reasoning is processed. The pursuit requires major assistance from scientists in China, whose international research presence is strong, despite growing mistrust from the US government.
So the backdrop for this article is the fact that although tensions between nations might indicate otherwise, collaboration between Chinese and US project researchers is increasing (see chart below from Nature magazine). Why is it so important that science transcends political boundaries?
Like different silos in an organization, project managers, and scientists rely on a free exchange of wisdom. Project managers, like the neocortex of a mouse’s brain (in structure, not intelligence) rely on a strong network – and that network is increasingly global.
One example of a collaboration that is working is the Harvard China Project, which is quickly summarized in this video:
In this collaboration, which resulted in a Nature Sustainability paper, we find that China may be five to ten years ahead of schedule in meeting its Paris Agreement goals by 2030. The article co-authored by both US and Chinese researchers, who collaborated on the wok from Harvard and Nanjing University.
I was very encouraged by the article and its theme of collaboration. I hope you are, as well and that you push for inter-organizational and international collaboration in your projects.
Source: Nature, Vol 575 21 November 2019 P S27