Well done is better than well said

Gudmund Høst, Coordinator of the EOSC-Nordic Project, Director of NeIC/NordForsk

The famous quote by Benjamin Franklin; well done is better than well said, is also the mantra of the Norwegian athlete and coach duo Karsten Warholm and Leif Olav Alnes, who recently won 400m hurdles in the World Athletics Championships in Doha. The duo is known for doing high-quality work in a relaxed and humorous collaboration. They focus on results even after the sudden rise to fame and glory.

We are only a month into the EOSC-Nordic project and life has changed for many of us. There are more requests for meetings, there is more interaction with new and old colleagues, and novel ideas are emerging within the project teams.

The Nordic Heads of Research Councils invited me to talk about EOSC-Nordic and NeIC during their meeting on the 23rdof September in Stockholm. I noticed acknowledgement and pride that the Nordic and Baltic countries are engaging actively and coordinated towards the European Open Science Cloud. They also noted that NordForsk has the coordinating role in the project. This is a new challenge for NordForsk and a learning opportunity for the organization. With a minimum of in-house personnel NeIC/NordForsk has embarked on a real-life test in facilitation of Nordic collaboration.

From my bird’s eye view I see a variety of dedicated teams forming around work packages, tasks and management. When I take a closer look, I see interesting opportunities within FAIR data, concrete plans being formed on policy-maker interactions and a management structure that is becoming increasingly operational.

Personally, I truly enjoy the mystery of interacting with people I do not yet know well. What can I learn from you? How can I tap into your thinking? How can we generate and refine ideas together? With about 200 people in the EOSC-Nordic network there are ample opportunities for such interactions.

This project also sheds light on the concept of collaboration. Horizon 2020 projects come with strings attached that imply a different framework for collaboration. This will test and stretch our familiar concepts and enable organisational learning.

Another challenge is the realization of benefits from EOSC-Nordic. Why are we doing this project and how can we continue to reap the benefits after the project ends in 2022? We have outlined a ‘knowledge hub’ to be sustained after 2022, but what should it contain? Is this to be the only legacy from EOSC-Nordic? An effort to identify a few key benefits for the stakeholders at the start may help in setting direction for the project steering. It should happen now, before we concentrate on delivering a successful project.

I don’t think any of us were prepared for the large increase in requests for meetings and presentations. EOSC-Nordic already has impressive visibility within the Nordic-Baltic countries and beyond, but our main priority should still be to get the job done. Through focused and fun work we want to deliver on all work packages with excellent quality. Then we can talk. Well done is better than well said.