Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Three Visionary Research Organisations

Discuss the similarities and differences that you think are important between CISRO, Wolcock Research Institute and CW+L at UniSA.

Similarities: These are all innovative research organisations in Australia with clearly defined scope of vision and mission objectives. They all started small or didn't exist at all. Their collective reasons for existence are to fulfill research needs that improve the knowledge and lives of Australians as well as incorporation of international collaboration in their reach and relevance to the world at large. It wasn't until someone expressed their vision and mission that any of them got started at all. Each could be said to share similar reasons for existence whereby through differences in scope and scale of research study all were designed to organize groups of people to work together for common purposes to find innovative solutions to improve quality of life whether through science, medicine or societal study. Each fulfills societal needs either for new products, better treatments or ways to understand important societal needs.

While the two smallest ships seemingly grew out of the passion, care and leadership of two individuals they have successfully grown their original direction into group and team oriented research organisations. While they are smaller than CISRO they are not small and have proven big enough in terms of vision and mission to survive the vicissitudes of time, relevance, and funding. Not all do.

Most importantly they all support the adage that together we rise and divided we fall. Perhaps indicative as well is that over time these organisations have only grown as a result of further inclusivity, dynamism and cross-disciplinary synergies which engage and perhaps "t-bone" and/or combine various disciplines to the benefit of collective and diffusive knowledge sharing.

Differences: In terms of strategy CISRO’s scope is the vastest considering it employs over 6000 people, has a high profile and is the largest of these three tall ships. It also possesses the longest pedigree and has grown substantially over several decades to incorporate numerous cross indexed charters (perhaps an elder form of the favoured expression of mission) which help define and categorize the numerous research specialisations present which include: information services, manufacturing and minerals, environment, energy and agribusiness.

In terms of mission and vision CISRO is the most grandiose in keeping with its significant scientific inventions, commercial successes and incorporates its vision and beliefs system to address:

1. A people oriented innovation policy of world class performance.
2. A commitment to safety and environmental sustainability.
3. Seeks deep science and innovation solutions.
4. Implements an effective and appropriate risk management system.
5. Supports individual creativity and flexibility.

In contrast, The Woolcock Medical Research Institute was crafted from its association with The Prince Albert Hospital of The University of Sydney with the individual drive and leadership of Professor Wolcock who began study of asthma with one patient and who grew the organization into the area of respiratory and sleep-related health care research. Our notes credit significant tax provisions provided by government incentives for the establishment of the centre itself. In terms of strategy the vision and mission expanded out of the skills and dedication of one researcher into the collaboration of many where now over fifty different research projects operate at the same time.

Wolcock Institute incorporates its mission of improvement in respiratory and sleep health of Australians through: research, education, prevention and care.

The Centre for Work and Life (CW+L) is still led by its original founder Professor Barb Pocock and focuses on work and quality of life research driven to improve understanding of current and future needs of Australia's stressed out and over-worked workers. In terms of strategy Pocock appears most entrepreneurial of the three considering her eloquence in the ABC Interview of 2007 available in the media section.

Her initial engagement in research of the sociology of work in Australia was made from a particularly left-wing and perhaps rebellious perspective which led to progressive self-realization and perhaps well defined and honed negotiation skills. Her description of finding a niche in the research environment at UniSA is very similar to the process through which many business oriented enterprises find their own unique customer oriented valuation. This is no surprise considering her economics specialization and interest in and abilities for hard work appear inspiring. This appears to be the humanities-based research example among the three ships.

The CW+L Charter includes five goals:

1. To improve the quality of work and life in Australia through analysis and innovative thinking.
2. To use logic and reasoning to assist organisations in generating policies which support the first goal.
3. To encourage collaboration through quantitative and qualitative research.
4. To train life and work researchers.
5. To widely share knowledge and information about life and work in Australia.

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