Saturday, April 6, 2013

Developing a vision and mission statement for your lab

One of my former bosses always said that running a lab is a lot like running a small business: your research is your product and you have to obtain seed funding to get your work started and continued funding to maintain production, you must advertise so that other scientists and the public know and share your research, and you have to hire and motivate the right employees. In line with setting up your culture, you also need a vision and a mission at the beginning. Who are you? What do you do?
A friend once told me that you have to be able to identify yourself in a couple of words, like a superhero name, and that stuck with me. She was Autophagy Girl, I want to be Extracellular Matrix Girl. That should be what other scientists think of you when they are looking for a collaborator or an opinion on something. What is your focus? And what do you want to be known for? When I joined my postdoc lab, my boss had an idea in his head of what he needed me for, which was not exactly aligned with what I wanted to do. It took six months to realign his expectations: "Yes, we can do that, but I really want to do this."

All universities and hospitals have mottos and mission statements and many are launching major rebranding campaign to define how they want to be perceived in the public opinion. I find quite a few labs also have mission statement and I like the idea of incorporating the goals for our culture in the statement. You always start your talks about what you are about, but what do you stand for? We stand for integrity and communication and innovation, and that needs to be made clear to the people wanting to work for me because I do not always remember to state my core values. I know that people learn by example and that you have to live your values yourself, but it also makes sense to communicate it to them clearly, so that everyone knows what the expectations are.

After looking around for a while I found a handy guide on developing a mission statement. Hope it is useful.

Image credit: By Vegas Bleeds Neon (Own work)


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  2. There are more people are not know more about their lab science and i think your post should be inspire the people to know more about science lap. It upgrades the knowledge on this education.

  3. Currently developing my lab vision and mission statement, including corresponding logo now.