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September 27, 2005
There are some pretty big cultural divides in the drug industry. The preclinical research people and the development people always think that they have one of the biggest, but that's not true. They do argue a lot, but the arguments are phrased in terms that each side understands. "Your synthetic route can't provide enough compound" "You're testing at too high a multiple for a toxicity dose" - these are worthy points to disagree on. Someone's going to win, and someone's going to lose, and both parties will know it, and they'll know why. That's why the discussions are so intense.
Try the space between marketing and research - now there's a canyon for you. During the periodic attempts to get these two groups to work with each other, each one feels as if it's making First Contact with an alien race. Marketing is such an imprecise world compared with the physical sciences (which are so cut-and-dried compared to marketing, as far as they're concerned) that sometimes they just talk past each other.
But for real extraterrestrials (as far as the research folks are concerned), you just have to go to HR. Of course, they feel exactly the same about us. Part of that is because the scientific habit of asking "Hmmm. . .I wonder if that's true?" doesn't make many HR presentations go more smoothly. I'll admit that it's hard to get real data on how well most human resources initiatives and techniques actually work, but you wouldn't know that to talk to some of the more enthusiastic practitioners. What's interesting is how they're generally just as perky about the next managerial fad, which generally comes along every three to five years.
I'm certainly not saying that scientists would be any good at the HR jobs, although we'd probably be better at theirs than they would at ours. Still, putting us in charge of problems that can't be settled by collecting more data probably isn't a good idea. Then there's the personality problem. Even though the real crazies are found mostly in academia, plenty of industrial researchers have people skills that need some fine sandpaper work and a coat of rustproof primer. No, you don't want a bunch of chemists and biologists running that shop. . .but just who do you want running it?
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