Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Professors in Silos. More of the lazy professor series.

One of the things that amuses and amazes me about SIU is how all the professor stay in their silos. What I mean by silos is that each little department of 5 or 15 or even 30 people doesn't talk to anyone else. There is almost no inter-department communication, research, or understanding.

When I posed the simple question about how many professors are working, it was to start you thinking about the people are working around you and maybe kick off a thought process that it isn't OK to be surrounded by slackers. If 20% of the people are doing nothing, that means that another 30% to 50% are working at far less then top efficiency. Sure there are small departments doing better, but there aren't many. But no one seems to know that any other department is doing. Why not take the things that work out of one department and do it somewhere else? Why reinvent the wheel every time?

If you were out in the business world, it is unimaginable that senior people wouldn't have a clue about how other departments are doing. Senior engineers always are talking to marketing. Sales people are bugging everyone for help. Why is it that a whole bunch of senior professors don't know anything about what is going on at SIU? Yes, I understand this is the norm once you get beyond the stars at any university, but why can't SIU do better?

Don't you see how much better your results in all things would be if you got out of your silos and talked to people? I know the reasons not to do anything, busy, doing depth and not breadth, not easy, no short term reward. But still, there must be a few brave professors what want better results? I don't read the Chronicle, but isn't this what real superstars are doing? I know this is where the research funding is going.

Think about it, should you be reaching out of your silo and if you did, what would you hope to achieve? Who would you reach out to? Should you get job review credit for doing it?

Since the Provost is busy worrying about retention and not excellence, let me encourage you to at least think about a way to get better research results and better management methods.

As always, your comments are welcome.

4 comments:

untenured said...

Are you thinking of something like http://www.siu.edu/orda/internal/interdisc_seed.html?

Peter in Carbondale said...

The three easiest things in the world are to do nothing working in a big bureaucracy, criticize a big bureaucracy and start programs that go nowhere inside the same big bureaucracy.

This is great if it turns into something, we will see if there is any management meat on this bone.

Thank you for telling us about it, is there anything else interesting like this?

Gerald McBoing Boing said...

I worked with an English professor to develop a major in corporate communications with courses from both the English and business departments a few years ago. Business department was gung ho and all for it. English department was 'interested' but the chair was not enthused about anything "not invented here" and it got refered to committee. I inquired about its progress a few several times but never got a yes or no answer. That's been about 5 years now.

untenured said...

Anything else interesting?

How about http://spotlight.siu.edu/05032006/Undergraduateresearchprogram.html ?

From what I've heard, it wasn't as interdisciplinary as this promo makes it sound. It seems to be a step in that direction, though.