Science Management Associates

Addressing the unmet need for interpersonal, group and organizational training of scientists and science executives in both the public and private sectors.
Contact us:           Phone : 617 965 1826
     Science Management Associates is based in Newton, Massachusetts

1. Negotiation and conflict resolution for scientists
  Download a sample workshop agenda here

So much of what takes place every day in the lab or in science team meetings involves resolving differences of opinion or accommodating multiple viewpoints in complex scientific discussions. Often such discussions engender strong emotions, leading the participants to engage in counterproductive behaviors. At times the scientific discussion can get de-railed by emotion laden interchanges, and projects can be hampered or even halted.

What do scientists find hard to do?
   •Disagreeing productively over technical matters (“That can’t possibly be right, you forgot to       pre-incubate it ..”)
   • Dealing with demanding supervisors (“I need these 30 cell lines assayed by the end of       the week.”) or recalcitrant employees (“No way can I get that done, I’m taking next week off       –  didn’t I tell you?”)
   • Providing honest and useful feedback to employees
   •Dealing with embarrassing personal  matters (“Larry, people in the lab find your body        odor distracting…”)
   •Dealing with pushy, obnoxious, competitive colleagues who defocus you from the task
   •Dealing productively with vexing issues such as space allocation, equipment use and lab       cleanliness
   •Mediating disputes between employees
   •Dealing with others taking credit for their work

What do all these situations have in common?

   •They all involve interacting with others.
   •They all involve an uncomfortable situation in which emotions are stirred up.
   •This can lead to instinctual responses – “fight or flight” reactions- that lead to confrontation,         avoidance and un-productive outcomes

It doesn't have to be this way. Dr Carl M. Cohen has created a series of workshops that are specifically focused on helping scientists interact and collaborate more effectively. The workshop on Negotiation and Conflict Resolution is the most popular of these. The workshop can be tailored to meet the needs of the audience, typically runs from four to six hours, and is highly interactive.
How can learning negotiation help?

   •Becoming a good negotiator forces you to “read” needs, interests and beliefs of others.
   •Good negotiators learn to monitor and modulate their own behavior in tense and emotion laden         situations.
   •Negotiation teaches that listening can be more productive than talking.
   •Effective negotiators (like effective leaders) identify and focus on underlying interests  rather        than on rigid positions.

This is not a generic negotiation workshop. It focuses specifically on situations that scientists encounter every day, and provides tools and guidelines that will be immediately relevant and useful to a scientific audience. The workshop can be customized for different audiences - for example the situations and case studies will be different for academic audiences and audiences from, for example, biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies.

Because of the interactive nature of these workshops, they are typically limited to no more than 70 participants. The workshop is suitable for a mixed audience ranging from graduate students, post-docs and faculty at academic institutions and scientists, managers and above in Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical companies.

2. Dealing with difficult people in the science workplace

This workshop is
usually offered as part of the workshop on Negotiation and Conflict Resolution, typically occupying the last 45-60 minutes of that workshop. The tools presented show scientists how to handle difficult people in a scientific setting. Examples include dealing with anger and hostility, dealing with overly critical or judgmental superiors or colleagues, recognizing and managing passive aggressive behaviors, and more. As with the negotiation workshop, all the examples are taken from scientific settings and situations that will be immediately recognizable to most scientists, no matter what their discipline. The tools presented are easy to apply and can transform uncomfortable interactions into productive interchanges.

   •How to deal with angry people
   •How to respond to people who are overly critical or judgemental
   •How to identify and deal with passive- aggressive behaviors
   •How to recognize these behaviors in yourself


3. Understanding science teams and optimizing their performance

So many popular and business books have been written about teams that you might think it would be hard to bring new insights to this field. Yet, very little has been written about scientific teams specifically. We believe that there are fundamental differences in the dynamics of science teams that distinguish them from teams in other disciplines. These differences originate in part from the personalities and needs of scientists themselves. This workshop runs from one to two hours, depending on how it is structured and on the needs and interests of the audience. The workshop presents the results of Dr. Cohen's research and thinking about the unique nature of teams of scientists, and reviews findings from the scientific literature as well. Participants will gain a new understanding of the dynamics of scientific teams and of how to help maximize team output and collaborative interactions in their own organization.

Being a member of a team can be challenging for scientists
•Being a team member means relinquishing some autonomy and being asked to make contributions that benefit the team’s work rather than your own.

•Scientists who don’t own a project need to find other ways to stand out or to distinguish themselves.

•This fundamental and natural need for recognition may cause difficulties for scientists in large organizations.

4. Creating and managing effective R&D organizations

This is a one to two hour workshop that starts with an overview of the challenges of managing scientific organizations and provides experienced based guidance and tools to meet these challenges. The problems of science based companies, for example, begin with the recruitment of scientists from academia who have a poor understanding of the culture and expectations of the private sector. Other challenges include:

    •Poor understanding of what motivates and de-motivates scientists
    •Myths about how R&D can and cannot be managed
    •The "silo" effect whereby communication between company departments is hampered
    •Inability to manage the ambiguity associated with R&D
    •Lack of appropriate career tracks for technical professionals
    •Difficulty turning conflictual discussions into productive problem solving sessions

This workshop explores these and other challenges in R&D based organizations, and helps attendees to identify and improve in those areas that affect their own organization.

Comments from recent Negotiation Workshop participants:

"The workshop was put together extremely well - insightful, clear and concise. The role playing exercises were..a great way to keep the audience involved."  Post-doc.

"I found it extremely useful because it gave names to problems I have and gave me tools to use in those situations." Post-doc

"The examples of situations are nearly exactly what occurs in my lab" Faculty member

"The focus is mainly on scientists and science managers. Carl having been through these makes it more personal and relevant" Pharma. Scientist

""Absolutely useful! Gave me a lot to think about regarding my communication and leadership styles. I think Carl's tips will benefit me both personally and professionally" Post-doc

"Useful because this workshop was 100% focused on scientists. Everything was related to scientists and their environment"  Biotech Manager

"This workshop is great! I have a lot of questions and concerns in the lab. Now I know what to do better." Grad Student

"The workshop made me think about new ways of dealing with people, which will the lab team more collaborative"  Post-doc

"This was useful because of Dr. Cohen's examples and modeling of behaviors. I found it useful to watch someone be the kind of lab manager I'd like to be" Post-doc