Daily Archives: July 10, 2009

A scientist in a B school

People are curious about my ongoing Executive MBA experience at the Goizueta Business School. What is a scientist doing there with those business types, they ask. Having a great time, really. Chemistry is great fun, loved NMR and liquid crystals, but now as a Dean, I deal with numbers, people, projects, budgets, and administration more than glycolipids. I have enjoyed the courses, been challenged at times, and been really excited to learn about a completely new world, where everything has the powerful $$$ before and after it. And yes, it has been extremely useful already.

Take Organizations Structures course. Prof. Robert Drazin pointed me in the direction of a great paper that compares organization model of universities to a, get this, “garbage can model.” They refer to decision making in universities as organized anarchy. Ideas, people, solutions, and problems are dumped into a “garbage can” and solutions emerge, without a rational process. (Contrast that with the “Star” model of Galbraith for example where organization’s structure is designed with a careful balance of strategy, people, structure rewards and processes.) Those of you in higher ed admin will appreciate the reference to “organized anarchy” especially when you try to propose a rational way to solve a problem or make a change and before you know it someone has proposed something else and someone else has agreed for all sorts of incomprehensible reasons and finally something evolves that has noting to do with the original problem. My project for the course, take an existing problem and propose a solution with the garbage can model and contrast that to the rational “Star” model. Love it.
(Cohen, M. D., March, J. G., & Olsen, J. P. (1972). A garbage can model of organizational choice. Administrative Science Quarterly 17(1): 1-25.) Galbraith, Designing Organizations, (http://www.amazon.com/Designing-Organizations-Executive-Strategy-Structure/dp/0787957453)

PreMeds, listen up!

Everyone is rethinking premed! “AAMC/HHMI Committee Defines Scientific Competencies for Future Physicians
New Report Offers Blueprint for Designing Premedical and Medical School Curricula” and exciting news within. See

Here at Emory, we are already working on it. This Fall, the very new PreHealth Mentoring Office will open its doors for business. Note the word Mentoring. It will be about mentoring: long term, relationship building, opening doors, holistic, promoting excellence and success and everything else that comes to mind when you say, Mentor. Lucky Emory premeds! Stay tuned for more.