• KPATH Scientific, LLC

KPATH Scientific, LLC: Helping you to navigate to success!

Updated: Jul 10, 2018

Even the strongest teams need effective guidance.

Welcome to KPATH Scientific, LLC! Tom Slezak and Yan Huang are both highly experienced managers who have built and led multidisciplinary teams that delivered leading-edge results and products in a variety of fields (pathogen diagnostics, industrial robotics, embedded systems, etc.) Tom has extensive experience with US government agencies involved in biodefense and human/animal/plant health plus years of independent consulting experience in the biotechnology space, while Yan has extensive international product management experience in addition to years of technical leadership.

Leverage our Experience

“Achieving success is a matter of optimizing for the right things at the right times, and knowing when to change your optimization function and how to keep everyone informed.”

As a leader, you are constantly challenged to allocate too-few resources to too-many conflicting demands. The details of your dilemma will of course vary depending on your field and the current stage of evolution of your project/product and company, but you must always made decisions about prioritization and resource allocation.

We may expand upon this in greater detail in a separate blog posting, but we have found that it is best for you as well as your team (plus your management or board or investors) if everyone understands exactly what variables you are able to control and what particular high-level goal(s) you are optimizing those variables to achieve.

An Example of Conscious Optimization

As a simplified example of this optimization process, consider that you and your significant other are currently renting an expensive apartment in a trendy downtown area that is within walking distance of your job but requires a long and expensive commute for your S.O. to a boring city with equally expensive housing. As you ponder your future together, you can see that your options include at least the following possible choices:

  • Remaining in your current expensive downtown apartment.

  • Moving to an expensive apartment in the boring city where your S.O. works.

  • Moving to a location with substantially less expensive housing that would require a commute for both of you.

What should you do, and how should you arrive at your decision?

Understanding Optimization Variables and Goals

Many of us have likely faced a situation similar to this in our own lives. Each option has pros and cons, and in real life you need to consider many factors that could affect the decision. Attempting to shortcut to a quick solution without explicit discussion may prove disastrous to the relationship! Instead, it may prove useful to ask "What are we optimizing for, at this stage in our lives together?" Possible answers could include:

  • Enjoying weekends as much as possible.

  • Being as fair as possible.

  • Saving money to eventually purchase a house.

  • Picking a location with a high-quality school district.

  • Minimizing the commute for the person working the longest hours at their office.

Clearly, once you both agree on your optimization function, your decision may be much simpler to make and agree upon. Note that if all school districts are of equal quality (good or bad) or if you both are working at similar intensity, you are unlikely to select an optimization function that depends on those factors since you know there will not be a winning choice.

Sticking with this real life example, it is also clear that changes in your circumstances may require you to re-examine your options in the future at any time. When this happens, it is important that you re-evaluate your optimization function to be sure that your values at that time are reflected. (This is one reason why so many hard-partying young couples renting downtown suddenly move to the suburbs when their family starts growing, for example.)

Optimizing Work Decisions

Make sure you are all hitched to the same wagon, and pulling in the same direction.”

Fast-paced high-achieving teams can fail to achieve this maxim due to many reasons, but inadequate communication from their leadership is a common cause. Often, this is because everyone assumes that they are all working towards the same goal, or some have failed to internalize that priorities have suddenly altered even though this has been communicated properly. Under high-stress conditions, this can quickly lead to toxicity and dysfunction.

When in doubt, gather your team together and ask "What are we optimizing for?" Manage the ensuing discussion to ensure that all get a chance to input. Once you gain consensus on the optimization function, your team is likely bright enough to understand what their roles are and how their best chances of individual success are tied to the success of the overall team.

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