Question: what is the point of having a scientific advisor?
We know the scientist type – they are pedantic, idealistic, inflexible – and socially challenged.
They are generally unable to do business in ‘the real world’. So why would you want one on the team?
We all know that business has some hard rules – the machines need to work and the numbers need to add up – but it is also an art – it is about people, about relationships, deals, loyalties, reputations. It takes care and passion. It is often irrational and is generally completely unpredictable.
So if it cannot be modelled and reduced to equations, why would you want an irritating pedant on the team?
Because in a complex world, the truth is worth its weight in gold.
A scientist’s job, is to use his or her training to filter out emotions, wishful thinking, bias and noise and identify what is true.
Just as every salesperson has their patter, every ceo will have their ‘summary’ for the board – and what they say will be wilfully spun. However, so long as they themselves know the basic truth, they will still be able to act wisely. They will also be able to maintain credibility pinning their spin on little nuggets of purest ‘truth’.
A world without a constant return to rational analysis will eventually wind up so twisted (the proverbial tangled web) that we will get entire businesses built on air.
Ok, so maybe we need someone to provide the boss with the unvarnished truth. What they then do with it then, well that’s business!
Aside for accountants: To be fair, accountants are also supposed to do this, but I would argue that only a true scientist will (probably through a mental fault) put truth first. Note that I am not saying scientists are more honest than other people – they lie and cheat too, it’s a desire to find the truth that I’m talking out, which is no guarantee of a desire to speak it.