SLAC Today logo

From the Director: Communication

(Photo - Persis Drell)Over the past several months, the ALDs and I have worked to refine the "One Lab" vision. Where we now have hard working staff but perhaps Balkanized efforts, we look to a future with a unified and aligned team and a strong sense of community between all the scientific efforts at the lab. Where now we have many processes and functions optimized for a sub-unit of the lab, we look forward to coherent efforts across the site with the appropriate mixture of centralized and satellite functions working together for the best outcome for the lab as a whole. As we go forward taking the steps to achieve this vision, we will need your input and your perspective. We cannot be everywhere and know everything. Input from employees throughout the laboratory is an essential part of our forward progress.

So often communication travels only downhill from top to bottom, but I believe that a laboratory cannot function properly unless communication also travels uphill. I want to exploit every possible avenue to allow that uphill communication to happen. When I started in the fall as Acting Director, I met with all the Directorates and Departments at the lab to introduce myself and to talk about where I wanted to take the lab. After the January 7 layoff announcement, I had another round of meetings with all the workgroups at the lab to answer questions about the layoffs and the future of the lab. These meetings were a wonderful opportunity for me to discuss the direction in which we are headed but, far more importantly, it was also a wonderful opportunity for me to listen to your comments and concerns. I will continue these meetings, with another round starting in late April.

However, large group meetings are limited in the type of interaction we can have. Sometimes issues are best discussed in smaller groups. Starting in April, I will begin a monthly brown bag lunch, where a handful of SLAC employees from different areas, job types and levels will be invited to have lunch with me in my office. Over lunch, we can have a roundtable discussion with no set topic. We can talk about the weather or we can talk about the state of particle physics—it is up to the attendees to decide.

Finally, starting today, my weekly SLAC Today director's column will be accompanied by a feedback button, which will appear at the bottom of each article. By clicking this button, readers can access a feedback form and leave responses to that day's column or to anything else going on at the lab. While something sent electronically is never truly anonymous, all identifying e-mail information will be stripped from the message when it comes to me. (Of course, you can always sign the note if you wish in order to let me know who it came from.) I encourage you to use this form if there is something you otherwise might be uncomfortable expressing or may not have the opportunity to express to me personally.

I believe that only through frank communication can we move forward as One Lab. If there are issues on your mind, I need to hear about them. Communication is vital and it is only by working together and sharing our thoughts and opinions that we will succeed.

Persis Drell, SLAC Today, March 7, 2008