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What We’ve Got Here is Failure to Communicate

Talking to your staff, your customers, and to upper management is common sense, natural and instinctive, right? Think again.

by Pamela Ahlberg
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“What we’ve got here is failure to communicate”*

Talking to your staff, your customers, and to upper management is common sense, natural and instinctive, right? Think again. “Effective communication requires thought and constant effort.” So says John Borchardt in this month’s cover story, which revisits the oft-covered and always important topic of effective communication with some fresh insights and new approaches. That importance is echoed loudly in “Perspective On: An Academic Clinical Lab,” in which Lisa Wright, QC and regulatory specialist as well as lab manager at Indiana University School of Medicine, discusses the need to communicate effectively with “current and future clients regarding laboratory processes,” with staff members in order to “keep the flow of work moving,” and with “clientele to ensure that accurate results are given in a timely manner.” She does that with an awareness of each unique relationship and the intended purpose, which certainly requires thoughtfulness and effort.

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Inefficient processes? Outdated procedures? Inexperienced analysts? Check out this month’s Management article, “Investing to Save” to learn how certain return on investment ROI) calculations can help you decide which investments are best for your lab. The same need for smart financial focus and calculation is reiterated in this month’s Technology & Operations article, “It’s All in the Planning,”  which discusses laboratory layout as another way to improve efficiencies. “Optimizing the space for efficiency of the experimental or technical process can yield increased ROI. For that reason, lab design is essential to improved process management.”

And if laboratory design and layout are important topics to you, please take a look at this month’s 22-page INSIGHTS supplement that covers everything from what to expect when planning a new design or retrofit, to trends, to energy consideration, plus expert feedback from those actively involved in the design process. “Develop a good working team, and develop it early on,” says expert Arthur Brings.

For more expert advice, click here to find out what Dr. Amanda Capes-Davis, independent cell culture consultant and Founding Manager of CellBank Australia, has to share when it comes to setting up a cell culture lab. For example, “When you are choosing equipment for a new lab, you have to remember that you are going to be living with those choices for years. So you want to have things that can be cleaned easily and you should know where to get them serviced or calibrated if there is a problem.” She also says, “All labs should think about having an emergency power supply to run fridges and freezers that contain rreplaceable samples,” which brings us to Sandy.

For those of you in the northeast U.S. who may have been affected by last month’s “super storm,” please let me know what, if any, impact it had on your facility, staff, or research. Were you prepared? What would you do different in terms of planning for such an event going forward? In our January/February issue, we plan to include an article on preparing your lab for power failure and into 2013 focus considerably more attention to this new area of concern. For myself, eight days without heat, electricity or hot water was certainly a wakeup call to better preparedness. I’m sure I’m not alone.

Whether effected by Sandy or not, I hope you are well, warm and looking forward to a joyful holiday season.

Pam Ahlberg




* A quote from the 1967 film, Cool Hand Luke