Great Scientists Play!

Seeking Innovation? Learn to play!

As I prepared my talk for Cracking the Workplace Communication Code with the Massachusetts Association of Women in Science, I came upon a wonderful surprise while looking for an example of small group authored papers from the 60's. The current discussion of "the future of research" calls for a return to a time of small labs and groups—a time when high caliber scientists, inspiring and collaborating with one another, produced exciting scientific breakthroughs.

As I Googled crucial research of the 60's and 70's, I came upon a book preview highlighting the work of Paul Berg “linking cancer and eukaryotic biology through an animal virus.” Berg received the National Medal of Science for his meticulous work on the creation of recombinant DNA tools. He also taught at Stanford in the 70’s. Could it be? A Stanford biochemist in the 70s, capable of crucial innovative research…? Might it be the same biochemist that colleagues told me about when I first started speaking nationally on performance and science? YES. IT WAS.

Paul Berg is the biochemist who narrates the "Dance of the Ribosome," the choreographed movement of hundreds of Stanford students performing through dance their understanding of how ribosomes with RNAs and tRNAs produce proteins. I love it!

Is it possible that the loss of innovation that some see in science is not a function of group size but rather a function of intimacy and play? Small numbers are often used as a proxy to indicate our comfort and willingness to openly explore ideas with others, especially those ideas that may be far-fetched.  We have the capacity to create this intimacy and comfort across science. We see it in our trainings and programs. So to fuel exceptional science and develop great scientists, instead of limiting your group size—foster play and performance.

Contact us to learn how play and performance can support exceptional science in your work environment.

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