Browsing the archives for the SIOP category.

Smack-down: Scientists versus practitioners

Random, SIOP, Uncategorized

Geeks are people with deep technical expertise.  So most geek fields have a strong research and intellectual foundation.  This often results in having two general categories of people working in the same area – scientists and practitioners. 

The scientists work to advance the field through research and analysis.  Sometimes they work in universities and sometimes in research labs and think tanks.  Practitioners work to apply the knowledge in order to impact people and business and the world.

For example, a medical researcher might seek the cure for cancer by doing research in a university, medical school lab.   The physician in a hospital uses that research to treat patients.

Seems like a healthy, practical and symbiotic relationship.  Both add value.  Both need each other to be effective.

But it does not always seem to work that way.

I recently attended the professional conference for my field, Industrial-Organizational Psychology.  SIOP is about 2/3 academic researchers and about 1/3 practitioners.  There always seems to be an unhealthy competition and disrespect between the scientists and practitioners.

The scientists think the practitioners are sell-outs for going into business and sometimes having to sacrifice theoretical purity for practical reality.  Practitioners see the scientists as focused on minutiae (like obscure statistical measurement) instead of researching practical applications.

SIOP has even been professing for years that all I/O Psychologists should be Scientist-Practitioners.  That would mean that everyone has a theoretical orientation with practical focus – learn to do both.

It has not seemed to evolve that way. 

Is there a scientist versus practitioner divide in your geek field?

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Off at the Psychology Geek SIOP Fest

SIOP, Uncategorized

As this posts, I am hobnobbing with other geeks at the 25 annual SIOP (Society of Industrial Organizational Psychology) conference in Atlanta.  About 2/3 of SIOP members are academics who focus on research and teaching.  So there will be a lot of intellectual discourse.  Then there are the intrepid practitioners like myself.  We work on applying all of that good research to real life problems in the workplace.

SIOP will include presentations and panels and papers about selection, assessments, research, leadership, training, employee development, coaching, test validation, work life balance and much more.

The topics should be interesting.  Mostly, I’m looking forward to connecting with some old friends.

Have a good weekend!

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About Geek Coach

Overview, SIOP

Who am I?

As confessed in an earlier post, I am a geek.  I definately have that deep technical expertise thing going.  Specifically I have a PhD in Industrial/ Orgainzational Psychology (I/O Psych) from one of the top programs in the country.

Okay, I hear the crickets chirping out there – very few people outside the field have heard of I/O Psych.  Here’s the official definition from the American Psychological Association (APA) division 13, Society for Industrial & Organizational Psychology (

Industrial-organizational (I-O) psychology is the scientific study of the workplace. Rigor and methods of psychology are applied to issues of critical relevance to business, including talent management, coaching, assessment, selection, training, organizational development, performance, and work-life balance.

Unlike many areas of psychology, I/O Psych focuses on rigorous measurement and analytics – lots of multi-variate statistics, advanced modeling and science-based research.  SIOP is currently voting on whether or not to change the name of the organization.  The name is only part of the problem – the group suffers from a lack of good PR and marketing.  It is a field that could provide potentially huge benefits to improving business and individual performance.  Unfortunately the group tends to be so focused on obscure academic issues that the practicality gets lost along the way…but I digress…

With my degree, I have expertise in assessment, executive development, learning, organizational development and more.  Many I/O Psychologists do research and teaching at major universities.  I’m one of the rebel I/Os who wanted to apply my knowledge and not just think about it.

So I work inside a corporation.  I’m a Director in Human Resources with a focus on talent assessment and development which includes coaching, succession planning, leadership programs and some other stuff.  Being an I/O geek in a corporation makes me doubly suited to writing this blog.  On one hand, I have the deep technical and professional expertise in helping other people develop professional skills.  I do it every day at work.  On the other hand, I am a geek who had to adapt to the corporate world.  It wasn’t always easy – coming from an academic focused environment.

This site is in no way associated with my job – hence the anonymity.  I don’t work on this during work hours or even discuss it at work.

In most cases, I will not be officially affiliated with the companies or products I’ll discuss.  When I am affiliated, I’ll let you know.  I’m not getting royalties or freebies for my work on this blog.  Right now, I’m interested in seeing if I can help out a few geeks.  If this holds together, maybe I’ll shoot for writing a book down the road.

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