Every so often, a phrase or expression moves from a movie into our general vocabulary. Obvious examples would be ‘if you build it they will come’ from Field of Dreams…‘I’ll be back’ from Terminator. I am never quite sure how this happens…but presumably the film has to be good, or popular – or both. And the line in question has to have some relevance to situations we are all come across regularly.
We had a big day for Science last week on site in the UK. We had presentations, posters and we were also lucky enough to have one of our most well-known scientists visit on the same day. It was a great day. Engaging, exciting and very enjoyable. And I even had chance to spend some time with our guest.
And it turned out that our guest scientist and I had a number of things in common, with the most recent being that we had both recently watched – and really enjoyed – the film The Martian. I actually liked ‘Interstellar’ slightly more…I always enjoy science fiction with a time travel twist. But nonetheless, The Martian was excellent….and much funnier than I thought it would be.
It also transpired that my guest and I both really liked how The Martian emphasised the incredible power of science. Whether anyone else thought the same I can’t really tell you. But we did. Which seemed appropriate since we were together for a Science Day.
So now I am on a one person crusade, to help a new expression transfer over from movies to real life. And I have two options – Matt Damon’s actual quote in the film when faced with an apparently insurmountable problem…‘I’m going to have to science the hell out of this’. Or the alternative – when faced with an apparently insurmountable problem – we will ‘MattDamon it’.
I am good with either option taking off, although I do like ‘MattDamon’ as a new verb – it’s shorter, and there is less opportunity for ‘less polite’ versions. But the key for me is the launch…and more importantly the message it sends.
We are all presented with exciting and engaging ideas and opportunities all the time. ‘…Wouldn’t it be amazing if…’ ‘Can you imagine what it would be like if…?’ And this excitement and engagement is essential. Descriptions of possible futures should always inspire us and compel us…to become involved.
But that’s the rub. Once we have all agreed and emoted on how amazing the future could be…we have to work out how to make that future real. And in our world of Research and Development, we have to ‘science the hell out of it’…we have to ‘MattDamon it’.
We have to be able to break an apparently insurmountable conundrum (or inconceivable opportunity) into smaller parts. And then we have to analyse the pieces and solve the problem. We solve the first. And then the second. And so on. And yes we frequently pull back and check our progress against the bigger picture…but we stay rational and we stay objective. We focus on data and on facts. We innovate solutions and we transform issues. But above all we stay scientific.
And the ‘we’ is just as important. Who is in the room and on the team? We need objective thinkers and innovative minds. We need detail lovers and process excellence. We need team members and a team mentality. We need scientists.
Too often we can stay too emotional too long. A positive emotional response to opportunities is necessary…but it is not enough. We need analysis, options and solutions. We need science and we need scientists.
We have to mattdamon it…