Thoughts on meetings

In my experience, physicists academics aren’t generally very good at meetings.

Yesterday was amazing – it’s the first time I think we’ve had a meeting that was productive! We actually planned it. There was an agenda, several of the participants gave short talks, and I drafted up an action plan and took minutes. The meeting kept to the time plan and was informative and I think everyone actually gained from it.

So I raise the question: How is it possible to make physicists better at project management? My fine colleagues in engineering actually have courses on such things. Yet there seems to be little emphasis on business savvy, industrial collaboration or management skills in a typical undergraduate physics course. We learn by trial and error.

There is indeed a lot of material to cover in a physics course, especially as school leavers don’t seem to know mathematics to a suitable level anymore, and as such the more esoteric skills (arguably more useful in the real-world) are pushed to the bottom of the priority list. I’m not sure I’d have taken an optional project management/industrial liason/wider-research-impact course at the time of my undergraduate degree, but I sure as hell would now with hindsight!

In fairness, we do run a Physics with Business Studies course, but that is a specific degree in itself. Maybe there should be something integral to pure Physics degrees too.

This actually goes against my usual viewpoint of the ‘dilution’ of a subject being a bad thing, but nowadays interdisciplinary collaborations are so commonplace that understanding of management and having a wider scope is a necessary skillset if you wish to pursue an academic career (and of course if you don’t).


One thought on “Thoughts on meetings

  1. Wils says:

    In my undergrad Physics course there was an optional business skills module for second year students that covered things like project management, working in teams and some basic accounting. It was a pretty popular choice; most people in my year took it as a lot of us had never really done anything like it before.

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