Tag Archives: laboratory innovation

“Storing up your compliments”


For accreditation purposes, we are required to keep records of all the complaints we receive into the microbiology laboratory, but not the compliments…

Every so often, someone will give you, or the laboratory, a pat on the back for a piece of good work you have done. This compliment can of course be verbal, by email or by letter.

I would advise you to store the compliments for a rainy/stormy day…

Not only does it balance out the complaints, but I think it is actually very important.

If you are innovating, making changes, and pushing the boundaries of the laboratory practice of microbiology, you can be sure someone will have a real go at you at some point in time. It is completely inevitable. That is when it is nice to have a ‘compliment box’, to objectively demonstrate that not everyone has the same opinion of you/your laboratory as your complainant.

So sitting beside my “Complaints” folder in Microsoft Outlook, I also have a “Compliments” folder, ready to be dug into whenever it is required. Admittedly my Compliments folder is not as big as my Complaints folder! Actually I don’t mind this at all. If the compliments I received were more numerous than the complaints, I would be worried that I was not being innovative enough and simply concerned with trying to keep everybody happy…


“Operators, Troubleshooters and Innovators”

All laboratory staff need to be Operators, in that we all need to be able to follow (sensibly) the method manuals, the guidelines and the safety regulations etc, etc. An operator can generally function with basic levels of training and knowledge, as long as nothing goes wrong…. 

In addition it is desirable to be a Troubleshooter. Even when the guidelines are followed, things can still go wrong, and do. A Troubleshooter is able to identify the problem and put procedures in place to rectify it. A Troubleshooter needs to have a good in-depth knowledge of their area and also the confidence to fix things when they are not working.

Most valuable of all is to have Innovators within the laboratory, staff who don’t just follow the guidelines, but are able to suggest changes to them in order to provide a better outcome. Innovators require not only knowledge and confidence, they also have the passion and the will to dream up the ideas and to suggest the changes.

The more troubleshooters and innovators the laboratory has, the better.

Best of all is when the troubleshooters and innovators are not the most senior people in the lab, but the most junior. That makes for a really dynamic lab…..


P.s. I have added some MCQs on laboratory testing of Varicella Zoster Virus (VZV) to the website.