Ultimately, what it means is that every season is grant season. It also means some other things:
- there is no good time to take vacation. No matter when you plan it, something significant will be scheduled either while you're away or immediately upon your return. Good planning and partnership with other managers and the PIs is essential.
- achieving excellence is difficult. This is no small problem for the perfectionists and type-a personalities that populate the scientific realm. The axiom "better is the enemy of good enough" is something else best remembered to keep sane.
- having a good team is critical to doing well and keeping your sanity. The combined efforts and knowledge of the group contributes to the success of everyone and of the projects and grants.
We all recognize that there are a few laws applicable to the world of grant writing:
- If it wasn't for the last minute, nothing would get done.
- A deadline extension is not a help. All it does is postpone the last minute. It also means the time until the next deadline is now compressed that much more.
- The computer network, email and the printers are preprogrammed to go on the fritz at grant deadlines.
What does all that mean? It means that there is always something to be done, that the best laid plans will often go awry, and that change is just as certain as the rain in Vancouver. A project manager's life is therefore not for those who thrive on completion, or for the faint of heart who can't endure the last minute deadline. But is for those who enjoy the challenge and satisfaction of enabling and contributing to the most fascinating research around.