At COMPASS, in addition to valuing scientists, connections, engagement, generosity, the environment, and working hard, we also value passion and balance. Because the pace and pulse of our work often reflects the pace of the academic and political calendars, August provides a chance for many of us to catch our breath. The blog will be taking a break too, and will be back after Labor Day! [Read more…]
This winter, I’ve had the privilege to witness a bunch of kids learning to ski (admittedly, while finally truly learning to ski myself). While supporting my daughters – one a future Bode Miller downhill-bomber, and one who’s slightly more cautious but still a strong skier – I was struck by the many parallels (pun intended) between learning to ski and learning to engage beyond your peers. [Read more…]
Holiday cheers to all of you! We hope that you and yours are taking time to relax, reflect, and rejuvenate this holiday season. We are taking a breath and a break; we’ll be back in 2016. [Read more…]
The sun is shining, gardens are overflowing, kids and members of Congress are frolicking on lawns– it must be summer! From our post as a boundary organization (with a foot in the camps of multiple professional cultures), we can see other signs that the season is in high gear, including scientists with lighter (or no) teaching loads, researchers finally able to get out in the field, and most of DC preparing to go on recess. The worlds around us are slowing down a bit; here at COMPASS we’re going to slow down a bit too.
Before I started traveling more often for work, I used to pack for trips by thinking about all of the things I wanted to bring with me…and then stuffing as much as possible into my allowed luggage. Who knows, I just might need three different pairs of flip-flops! But as this chore became more frequent, I realized how often I didn’t really use most of what I brought, and that my packing method was exhausting both to execute and lug around airports. And so, like any good scientist, I re-examined my method and realized that I should focus on just the things that I thought would be the most useful. Those extra pairs of flip-flops would be waiting when I returned home, and I could always purchase something I needed on the road in a pinch.
December, especially this week, is crunch time. Instead of indulging in sparkling wine by the twinkling lights of my Christmas tree, I’m drinking coffee with my computer in my lap combing through elaborate spreadsheets. Because the calendar year is our fiscal year, we at COMPASS are knee deep in budgets, planning, forecasting, and administration. Sound familiar? Perhaps your crunch time involves grading finals, submitting grades, scheduling the next term’s lectures, balancing your year-end budgets? Lots of us are drowning in what feels like a never-ending sea of things to do before we can finally put work aside for the holidays. [Read more…]
Academics are hearing the message loud and clear that society needs what they have to offer. In Nicholas Kristof’s recent provocative column, “Professors, We Need You!,” he admonishes professors not to “cloister yourselves like medieval monks,” but at the same time, acknowledges the real challenges posed by “a culture that glorifies arcane unintelligibility while disdaining impact and audience.”
At COMPASS we often hear a sincere desire from scientists to make their work relevant in societal dialogues. But we also hear that the nature of many academic jobs often makes that engagement an add-on, rather than an integral part of their workload and process for review and promotion. As Chad wrote in his last post, scientists can learn how to make the most of the time they spend engaging, honing their skills to maximize the value they can bring to policy dialogues once they’ve begun. But the problem remains, how do you balance expectations of academic culture with the time it takes to make a valuable contribution in a policy space? [Read more…]
Every year, the entire COMPASS team, including our board, gathers together to reflect on the year past and brainstorm for the year ahead. Since COMPASS is a distributed organization, for many, this will be the only time of the year for us to see each other in person. It’s a time to reconnect, realign our shared goals, and re-energize the team. Our annual retreat starts tomorrow and, as always, we’ve got a lot to talk about.
A recurring theme of our retreats is how we can do better and take on increasingly transformative projects while strategically saying no. As Karen shared last week, time – and, often, institutional capacity – is inflexible, but energy is not. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to manage and align your energy to maximize happiness and productivity – from simple changes in your daily routine to a complete reorganization of priorities.
With that in mind, and heading into the retreat, I asked several of the COMPASS staff what gives them the energy to continue pushing the envelope in work and what they do to remain energized and productive. Here are some of the themes that emerged. [Read more…]