Saturday, February 11, 2012

Lessons learned or Just the Familiar Innovation Trap?

Every person deals in life with two fields of decision making. Oneself, and one's (working) environment. I consider both equally important, in line with quantum mechanics. Both areas should be well-known to you. Yet, knowing the environment is more difficult to comprehend as it may change, while a person's character is likely to largely remain the same. I had the opportunity, in military service time, to have been scrutinized by psychologists through a subsequent series of tests, and was considered fit for a G2 post, which is recognized to be outstanding in military intellectual demands. I fulfilled the post at division level in a manner, that I was asked to stay. Yet, when I was expelled during my study, being told - not fit for university level - I had forgotten about all of it. Later on I learned the mechanisms of brainwashing, as practiced in Hanoi-Vietnam.
It also took quite some time to realize that my research goals probably aimed further in the future and more at the grand scene, than generally being practiced. The immediate future has a direct impact on current policy, not on some distant future. However, I do not consider myself completely stargazing. For instance, my strong suggestions for some of my colleagues to reserve priority time to their PhD worked out well, and not only facilitated their careers, but also the faculty at large, making us, among other developments, an international forerunner in the field of GIS. 
Suppose I was in the position to make choices again? I might hesitate more, but I would probably go for the same eminent professor, as I also would go for the same excellent organizations in society to work with in my research projects. They all provided good research platforms, although inevitably being meager in funds. However, that was made good in individual risk taking and support. They had the hard-to-find courage of facilitating my quest for ground breaking research. I should also stress, that many colleagues and students were around, who strongly supportted me in times of hardship, and without their help and loyalty I might not have succeeded.
I was and am proud of having produced some better insights and solutions, that showed to matter in the end. I survived the strong rumination defense mechanisms, generally being imperious, even in an outstanding university as Utrecht. In a way innovation might still be considered a threat. The following situation is not uncommon. The innovator may be held in contempt through curtailing his means, overloaded with secondary or even silly tasks. He is put on a tight schedule to disrupt his work. He is humiliated with over-silly remarks and belittled in the gossip circuit. His contributions to science and society are disregarded. So, in terms of career, it makes more sense to prefer the rumination protection and choose that 97% path (the percentage is estimated by the University President).