A career is often based on one of these three stances:
The Scientist does experiments. Sometimes they work, sometimes they fail. She takes good notes. Comes up with a theory. Works to disprove it. Publishes the work. Moves on to more experiments.
The Engineer builds things that work. Take existing practices, weave them together and create a bridge that won't fall down, write code that won't crash, design an HR department that's efficient and effective.
The Operations Manager takes the handbook and executes on it. Brilliantly. Promises, kept. Hands on, full communications, on time.
The scientist invents the train. The engineer builds it out. The operations manager makes it run on time.
Operations managers shouldn't do experiments. Scientists shouldn't ask for instructions on what to do next. Engineers shouldn't make stuff up…
Which hat do you wear?
Hint: you can change hats as often as you want. but be clear about the task at hand.
[Update: Joe reminds me I missed a critical fourth hat: The salesperson. She's the one who provides the vital last step, the bridge to the customer…]