Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Topsy-Turvy Corporate Culture - From Tiny to Enormous

Let's face it: We humans are rubbish at logs.

I don't mean the huge cuts removed from tree stumps, but rather the mathematical powers of ten that scale up or down our everyday existence. N.dG.T. related a convincing illustration of our teensy experience relative to outer space in his first stint hosting Cosmos; here's another from the JLC archives.

Now, I've been working in pharma for some time, usually in tiny start-up companies with 10-100 people (log10 = 1-2). Recently, I made the jump to "Megapharma," clocking in somewhere around 5 logs (To calibrate you, the total student population of UT-Austin is ~4.7 logs, and the population of Los Angeles is 6.6 logs). It's professionally equivalent to feeling like a single grain of salt in a heaping tablespoon.

And hey, this is only a two-log difference!

Not that I'm an introvert, either: I've been ENTJ for as long as I can remember. I'm perfectly fine with bustling parties (1.5 logs) or attending conferences with ~3. But this type of scale jump takes some adjustment. I find myself buried in organizational charts, figuring out exactly whose workflow covers my next project. I apologize when re-meeting people I've met two weeks before - just not enough space on the mental whiteboard for all the new names. Gone are the days when I could just poke my head in my colleague's lab to get a reagent, or speak directly to my company's founder. The enormities of scale preclude certain "normal" social interactions.

All this to say that my posting schedule will remain sparse until I wrap my brain fully around this new reality. It's not all bad news: Small sub-groups meet to offer community to new folks like me. Megapharma uses lots of ingenious workplace engineering to make the place seem smaller - potted plants, kitchenettes, warm colors, etc. After a little while, my brain will loosen and change, and you'll see floods of new posts about the joys of meetings (to plan other meetings) and #BigPharma life.

Oh...and more chemistry whimsy. Promise.

1 comment:

  1. Don't let it get so loose that you start to enjoy pre-meeting meetings! We don't have enough CNS expertise to do anything about that once it start, y'know.