News & Insights
Differentiating Value: Respectful Irreverence
- By David Schenkein
Our values of absolute integrity, focused execution, incisive leadership and collaborative spirit combine powerful words. Our next value, respectful irreverence also shares this attribute. I believe we’ve done something unique by linking these two words—and in the process we created a value that aptly describes an important characteristic of our culture.
Albert Einstein conveys one meaning of this value. Einstein was a disruptive thinker, a revolutionary – but he was also someone who didn’t take himself as seriously as he took his science. Our science—and our mission—are serious. But we don’t always have to be.
Like Einstein and many other great scientists, we have to be willing to challenge dogma. We are venturing into an unexplored field of biology. Doing that successfully means taking nothing at face value. We have to respect the science, the data and the scientists who have gone before us, but we must be free to challenge previous assumptions. We successfully challenged the emerging dogma with IDH1—and we will do it again.
Disruptive thinking can come from anyone in our organization. We are each free to speak up, to challenge. And it is our responsibility to do it! Ideally, every meeting, indeed every interaction, will end with every participant feeling heard and respected, and our science advanced. We should feel that our “game” is routinely elevated after an Agios meeting or interaction because of the probing questions that came from our colleagues.