Specialties
Quite early on, Clark seems to have come to wonder why he hired me. So, he sent a memo asking for an outline of my “bag.”. My reply, if I recall correctly, put a greater-than-expedient emphasis on my desire to improve the world via the power of Forresterian insight. But I also mentioned that I knew how to calculate the size of a survey sample (thanks, Dick Light!). Turns out I was the Company’s only possessor of this rather fundamental bit of knowledge, at the time; it became one of my specialties and a major rationale for my continued employment.

As I worked with various projects, it became clear that I had a better handle on the logic of research design than did many of my colleagues: trained in the social sciences, they were a lot better-versed in psychological, sociological, and political theories and doctrines than in the technical bases underlying the search for new knowledge. Hurrah for physics!

Fairly early in my tenure, we (AAI) got in trouble with a government customer by turning in a poorly-written report of a poorly-designed study. In the ensuing turmoil, Clark passed me a copy of the report for review and comment. When my response turned out to mirror that of the customer, Clark asked me to sit in on a meeting with the (distressed) customer, at which he presented me as a new methodologist with the Company, indicating that I would be available to help improve the product. When subsequent interactions smoothed the situation and restored relations, I found myself with a couple of specialties broader than just sample design, implying more solid long-term employment prospects.

In the introspection that followed this episode, Chris Hamilton and I formulated a proposal to form an in-house Research Design Group which would consult to project management teams as needed and have review and approval authority over written products. Clark went for it with some enthusiasm, and RDG became an evolving entity and function in the Company, with Chris and me as its co-chairmen.

Since it didn’t really develop until I’d finished school, I’ll save extensive discussion of my final specialty for Chapter Four. But I’ll just mention here that I became, inadvertently, a principal go-to-and-clean-it-up guy for Abt Associates. On two major projects and several smaller ones, the customer became so dissatisfied with our project director that he asked Clark for a replacement; in each case, I became the successor.
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