Avoid “Not Invented Here” syndrome at Fermilab

Consult your colleagues when brainstorming to solve problems. Someone might have already faced that issue!

In the course of our work, we’ve all had a new technical responsibility assigned or been asked to implement a new administrative or regulatory practice. These responsibilities may fall outside our expertise or comfort zone. Our needs may be unique and we want to find the best solution to accomplish our task.

Our first inclination may be to begin collecting information and formulating a plan to meet the new requirement. Drawing on our experience, we try to consider all options and anticipate future problems. We may feel the need to invent a custom solution to our own specific needs, but we should avoid spending time and money developing an idea if a solution already exists. Even if something was “Not Invented Here,” it may still be the simplest solution. Despite the best planning, there is often a learning curve to new activities and we can’t foresee all possibilities. Fortunately, Fermilab has a wealth of experience upon which to draw.

When faced with a new challenge, consider that others have likely faced similar needs. If you’re charged with implementing a new project planning process, consider others affected by the same requirement. If you need to develop an equipment calibration procedure, seek other groups that already have a system in place. How have they chosen to implement it? What pitfalls have they encountered? Others at Fermilab or other facilities may have a more mature practice in place and have already learned from their mistakes.

Your Quality Assurance Representative can serve as a valuable resource in accessing collective lab knowledge. Interacting with their counterparts in other organizations, they share experiences and can inquire about solutions implemented elsewhere. In their roles as QA Assessors for the laboratory, they have knowledge of practices used across the laboratory. The Office of Quality & Best Practices can also serve as a resource for directing you to others within or outside Fermilab who may have experience or best practices implemented in a specific area.

—Kurt Mohr