I used to suffer from tsundoku but now I am almost cured… Tsundoku is a Japanese word meaning ‘the constant act of buying books but never reading them’. I still find it hard to walk into a good bookshop and leave without buying a small pile of books. I did it early this month in the Camden Lock Books and left with ‘The New Leaders‘ by Daniel Goleman, ‘What we talk about when we talk about love‘ by Raymond Carver and ‘The Fires of Autumn‘ by Irène Némirowsky. I will probably read all of these three books over the coming months so it was not really an act of tsundoku. But, it’s perhaps only because there are so few really good bookshops left that I don’t buy more in a year than I can read. Although this is not quite true in my professional life, because I have started buying books on-line and the pile of unread books in my office is growing; so I am not completely cured of tsundoku. Actually, all researchers are probably suffering from it because we collect piles of research papers that we never read – in part because we can’t keep up with the 2.5 million papers published every year. And, it’s growing by about 5% per annum, according to Sarah Boon; perhaps, because there are more than 28,000 scholarly journals publishing peer-reviewed research. Of course, that’s what happens if you measure research productivity in terms of papers published – it’s a form of Goodhart’s law [see my post entitled ‘Goodhart’s Law‘ on August 6th, 2014].
Leadership is like shepherding – selfless and most of the time you have to stand back and watch. You show them where to forage [provide the vision], you take care of their health and welfare, you protect them against predators [threats] and you worry about them. But, when all of that’s done, you watch from a distance and feel proud of them.
If you would like to discuss ideas about leadership in science and technology then join us towards the end of this month for a CPD module on Scientific Impact and Reputation, which is part of our Science and Technology Leadership programme at the University of Liverpool in London.