After a long session today that turned out basically to be about identifying changes to bring about improvement in response to evaluations, I wonder how far we have got. I believe the intentions of the meeting were to get agreement to self-manage change that is also directed and controlled from the top - an awkward situation. After a fairly short introduction, there was the first of two breakout sessions and the main problem was a huge mass of data presented shortly before the meeting - effectively the first opportunity to consider some of the data was at the beginning of the breakout.
Somehow, between us we managed to begin to analyse. I was then puzzled by what approach should be taken, but selected the pragmatic option of sticking mostly to what I know and can do. When the groups reported back, it started to look as though some themes would be identified - but there also seemed to be encouragement to identify as many themes as possible. Perhaps post-session reports will make this clearer. I started to wonder whether the outcome of a large meeting could really be the identification of key themes, especially with so little proper preparation.
The first breakout was followed by presentations, then a second breakout that asked groups to identify three changes that could be made for September. Although this seemed a good idea, it took me about five minutes to realise that we already have more than three changes planned - the last thing the team needs is additional changes. Instead, I looked at how suggestions fitted with existing plans that have yet to be approved.
Where have I got to? Perhaps the further involvement of the team in the planned changes - although since the team are already very involved, that's not much of a change. Where has the team got to? Perhaps affirmation that we are on track - but I think we knew that already. The session marked some kind of place along the road - not a milestone, maybe a widening of the path.
There was clearly a recognition of the need for improvement, some energy may have been generated and, for me, a realisation that one of the reasons that universities take a long time to change is because they are full of intelligent people who are capable of debating ideas. What we might need is more frequent debate.
Posted at 03:28 pm by shirley