[Ed. note: Max Perutz shared the 1962 Nobel Prize in chemistiy with John Kendrew for developing the X-ray diffraction techniques that revealed the structures of macromolecules and, thereby launched the science of molecular biology. But more recently, he has been lauded for his spectacular success as a manager of scientists. In particular, the accolades single out his tenure as head of the Medical Research Council’s molecular biology laboratory in Cambridge, from 1947 to 1979. What makes a good manager? The Scientist asked Perutz for his opinion.]

In 1959, when the Unit for Molecular Biology was still part of the Cavendish Laboratory, our budding fame brought a Soviet delegation to discover how I had planned the unit. Had I selected staff as Noah gathered animals for his Ark—two mathematicians, two physicists, two biochemists, and two biologists—and waited for their discoveries to hatch? Our visitors did not believe me when I said...

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