Over the last few months my activity levels on my blog, twitter and elsewhere has taken a downturn.
This was in large part because of the high degree of uncertainty surrounding my departure from Emerald, and my arrival in Qatar to take up the post of Chief Technology Officer at Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Journals. I’m now into my second week and it feels right to reflect a little, and put down a marker that I can look back in six or 12 months time and see how things panned out.
Once I decided to put something down here I was wondering where to start, and then I read this piece from The Tao of Innovation on Optimism in Innovation.
Moses Ma writes that “the greatest risk for startup failure lies in not being optimistic enough”. And he’s right. Try building something when you and your co-workers are pessimistic about it’s chances for success, or approval from the management team, or even an acknowledgement that you tried something on behalf of everyone else. Basically, it can’t done.
Even the most optimistic would happily acknowledge that there are so many ways in which your project/idea can go wrong you need deep wells of resolve and persistance. In other words one must be optimistic about the final outcome, otherwise all is lost.
This applies to nations too, as well as people. Which brings me back to the Qatar Foundation.
I’m still struggling to fully understand the scale and scope of this venture, started in 1997 by the Emir of Qatar to improve education, research and science capability in the country and the region. It’s become a world class facility in the last couple of years – I read last week the researchers here even discovered a new exo-planet and called it Qatar 2-B!
And given all the turmoil in the region, and the sometimes shaky ground upon which ventures like this are built, it’s working! The optimism that drives the QF vision is infectious and inspiring. Perhaps I became a little cycnical but the freedom, indeed the insistence, that one simply “does it” is energising and life affirming. That’s remarkable and is exactly what I’m here for – to make happen the things I wanted to make happen in the UK but couldn’t.
The mandate with BQFJ and our platform Qscience.com is simple – connect researchers from around the region, and the world and make their research easily available everywhere. Simple really. I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to working with others to build new services for Open Access authors and researchers. Qscience.com is going to be an amazing research facility and showcase for original arab research and hopefully a means to cross a sometimes tricky cultural divide.
Much of what is built might not work but some of it will, and what does work will make a difference to the research capability of the entire region.
And the vital catalyst – optimism that the freedom exists to try and to fail, optimism that hard work will be rewarded, and optimism that what qscience is doing can make a difference!