About this Author
DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: Twitter: Dereklowe

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May 22, 2012

The Counting of Beans

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Posted by Derek

This article from the Telegraph has nothing to say at all about the drug industry. But you might find it strangely familiar and appropriate, starting with the headline: Bloodless Bean Counters Rule Over Us:

You find this hollowing-out everywhere. In schools, the head who does not teach is now a familiar, indeed dominant figure. University vice-chancellors, instead of being dons who move from their subject into administration for a period of their lives, are now virtually lifelong managers, with hugely increased salaries to match. It is even commonplace for charities to be run by people with no commitment to the charity’s specific purpose, but proud possession of what they call the necessary “skill-sets”, such as corporate governance. . .

. . .These habits are now pervasive across industry and the public services. “Diversity” is always “celebrated”, but it never means diversity of thought. The people who tell you they are “passionate about” X or Y are usually the most bloodless ones in the outfit.

In such cultures, just as the experts, the professionals and the technicians bitterly resent the managerialists for neither understanding nor caring, so the managerialists secretly detest the professionals who, they believe, get in the way of their rationalisations. They are desperate to “let go” of such people. Very unhappy organisations result.

Or then again, perhaps you haven't encountered anything like this after a few years in the industry. What, after all, are the odds?

Comments (8) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business and Markets | Drug Industry History


1. PharmaHeretic on May 22, 2012 8:22 AM writes...

You mean that companies and organisations are now run by professional sociopaths (cancers) instead of the bumbling amateur power-seekers (non-malignant tumors). Doesn't that explain why things are hollowing out, crumbling and collapsing?

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2. Anon on May 22, 2012 8:24 AM writes...

Great article! The example with the consultants perfectly illustrate what is wrong with this model. All the "manegerials" do is to walk off with as much money as they possible can. On a personal note, I am surprised by the number of high quality teachers in my school district, and by how pathetic some of the pricicipals are.

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3. processchemist on May 22, 2012 8:24 AM writes...

It's a fast spreading disease. I know about the case of an academical spin-off with two patents that applied for funding with a government institution: 6 months of business plans, a strict due diligenge performed by accounting and management consultants, not a single minute wasted on science and technology....

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4. NoDrugsNoJobs on May 22, 2012 9:24 AM writes...

Its easier to count beans than try to think critically....Human nature is to be lazy thinkers.

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5. Rick Wobbe on May 22, 2012 9:29 AM writes...

Great article, in a Rip Van Winkle kind of way. How is it that detachment from the organization and its knowledge have become virtues? It's as if Orwellian logic ("Ignorance is strength", 1984) became best practice. But what really struck me was how familiar the article and resulting comments sounded. It reminds me of Twain's observation, "Everyone talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it.", except we should have been able to do something about it.

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6. PSL on May 22, 2012 12:37 PM writes...

The irony is that it was the group blowjob that was given to thatcher and her ilk by the likes of the telegraph that turned the universities in the UK into managerial clusterfucks.


for a nice summary.

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7. anonymous on May 25, 2012 5:02 PM writes...

“So in everything: power lies with those who control finance, not with those who know the matter upon which the money is to be spent. Thus, the holders of power are, in general, ignorant and malevolent, and the less they exercise their power the better.”
― Bertrand Russell

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8. Lu on May 27, 2012 2:11 PM writes...

That's why I abandoned the attempts to get into pharma industry and chose a semiconductor company where all but one executives have engineering background.

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