While reviewing a biotechnology opportunity recently, a reference to “being an (biological) antagonist” was made. In thinking about this further on my drive home I realized that as a result of my scientific background, venture capital experience and project management training, I indeed behave like a surmountable antagonist (also referred to as a competitive or reversible antagonist).
In short, what this means is that unlike some people which upon learning about an idea or opportunity fairly quickly see the upside and value and want to get going, I instead suspend judgement at least for the moment and collect more information - digging a little deeper by doing additional research and asking some more questions. Although collecting more information does take time, I believe it reduces risk and hence improves the decision-making. This is no doubt why I am a strong proponent of business plans and strategic planning over stopping at verbal or back-of-the-napkin plans.
That is not to say that with enough research a perfect plan can be prepared. We all know this is not true and that too much planning can lead to “analysis paralysis.” A happy medium needs to be reached in which answers are found or at least risk mitigation plans developed for the most critical aspects and pressing issues. The secrets here are good questions and good experiments but these are topics for another time.
So I guess it could be said, stretching the analogy further, that I behave like Naloxone (Narcan®). Naloxone is a drug, that as part of emergency response kits, is used to treat heroin, morphine and other opioid drug overdoses. As a surmountable antagonist, it acts to reduce the risk of fatal overdoses that too often follow the initial euphoria.
Background on (Biological) Receptor Antagonists (See figure)
When an agonist (green square) binds a receptor it causes an effect. This effect is usually dose dependent, in that with more agonist i.e. a higher dose of drug, there is a greater effect (solid red curve). A competitive or surmountable antagonist (red circle) binds to the same receptor as the agonist in a competitive way and hence much more agonist is required to get the same effect (a shift in the dose-response to the dashed red curve). In the case of a follow-up treatment with an antagonist, it binds some of the receptors and hence significantly reduces the existing response level (from a point on the solid red curve to a point on the dashed red curve directly below it).