Don't steal my cheese
(Before you start reading, go download my mini-book on the Reciprocal Development Principles. I’ll wait here.)
When it comes to coordination between wet lab and data teams, there’s an elephant in the room that it’s past time to address: Sometimes, bench scientists see the help offered by data scientists as threatening to take away the most fun and most glamorous part of their job.
They’ve worked nights and weekends for months in the lab with nothing but a pipette and a dream. They’ve meticulously tracked their efforts, ran QC and patiently waited for the readout. And just when they’re about to be the first person to see the data plot that makes it all worth it, you want to sweep in and steal their glory?
Look, this is a tough one and there’s no easy way around it. If your biotech data team is going to begin driving your organization’s research program, you’re going to have to get involved in the work that the bench teams might rather keep for themselves. But with some tact and some deliberate empathy, you can usually address these concerns in a way that’s win win for everyone.
The first thing is to call it out as something to address. You may not even have realized they saw things this way. (That’s why you read this newsletter.) But if you let your colleagues know you’re aware of their potential concerns, you can work together to address it.
Second, keep in mind that there’s enough glory to go around, and you can afford to be generous in how you share it. Maybe you can agree that the bench scientist owns the experiment and should have the final word on interpreting and presenting those specific results. They’ll sit next to you when you run the analysis (Is pair analyzing a thing?) and do the final steps themselves. You still own the analysis method and get credit for multiplying the impact of the experiment. Plus their insights and intuition make your job that much easier.
However you work it out, if you recognize that this issue is impacting your relationship with the bench team, it’s better to face it head on, together.
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Maybe it helps that I was a bench scientist in a past life. I tell them early and often that I don't want to be a bottleneck, so whatever solution I developed it helps me (since I'm doing the prototyping) and them. Where people fall into traps is assuming they have all the answers or they know best