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From the Chief Operating Officer: SLAC Core Values

(Photo - Alexander Merola)
(Photo by Linda Cicero.)

One of the PAUSE key recommendations, collected from SLAC-wide working groups, is to reinforce SLAC's core values through both communications and actual behaviors. I thought I would highlight three of these values here.

Let's start with "One Lab." There is no phrase that is more often repeated when we in senior management are actively making hard decisions that affect the entire lab. One Lab means to think first of SLAC as one institution with a shared scientific mission and set of goals. So, when all of us at the lab make decisions, strategic or tactical, we strive to actively balance what might appear to be in the best interest of one group or directorate with what is best for SLAC as a whole. The Executive Council and the SubCouncils are always dealing with this productive friction when addressing issues like the setting of overhead or other indirect rates; the prioritization of how we use such funds, whether for Laboratory Directed Research and Development projects or mission support; or a decision to create and provide a central service from the Accelerator or Operations Directorate. One Lab helps guide our decision making processes and makes it easier to understand some of the harder decisions.

Another value is "Diversity and the Work Environment." A professional and respectful work environment encourages diversity of every kind, not just in race or gender but also diversity of thought. The best decisions are made when the problem and the solution space are well understood. And bringing to the table a group that is capable of identifying, articulating, respecting and appreciating different perspectives will help us do that, and will result in improved and better-informed decisions. After all, if we all thought alike, would we need more than one of us? 

Finally, a few words on the value that caused the most controversy as we discussed it: "Play to Win." This means to be aggressive and forward-looking in setting our goals and working to achieve them. Set goals to capture the future, not to preserve the past. As we "play to win," we behave consistently with other core values (such as One Lab, Safety, Excellence), so we play by the rules but we play to win. As I type this, I can't help but recall how successful SLAC has been in the past year (see last week's article from Persis). We set our goals high and look what we achieved! And we intend to continue to win.

The full list of SLAC values is available on SLAC's Mission and Vision page. One of the things we, SLAC, agreed to do via the PAUSE process is to continually reinforce them via both communication and our actual behavior.

—Alexander Merola
SLAC Today, January 14, 2011