For a change, this will not really be about EA (but then of course isn’t everything really about EA?) – I’m attending the Higher Education Academy/Leadership Foundation Change Academy 2009 as a member of the LJMU team. Four days in a hotel near Nottingham trying to work out how to cross the great divide – and I’m afraid there will be no gossip/comments on individuals or institutions, Chatham House rules.
There are multi-disciplinary teams of around seven each from fifteen UK institutions, ranging from the University of Bristol to the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, from Thames Valley University to the Royal Agricultural College. Each team has a project – or in some cases more like a theme – where they think enhanced expertise in change management is needed for a successful outcome. I won’t go into the details here – see the Change Academy website – but again they range from academic reorganisations to building world of work skills, from enhancing e-Learning to reengineering assessment and feedback. Common themes I’ve spotted so far seem to be a) the need to respond to the National Student Survey and b) an increasing focus on the world of work.
The LJMU project is focussed around our move from the Oracle Student System to Oracle Campus Solutions – the key being that it is the Campus Solutions Transition Project, not the Campus Solutions Implementation Project. The overall objective of the project is not to simply implement a new student record system, but to achieve a step change in the way that students and in particular staff interact with Information Systems, enabling enhanced services through modern, direct delivery. It was interesting in sessions yesterday to hear reference to transition – it’s not about implementing the system, it’s about getting the University to make the transition to using it.
So, so far so what? Well, introductions. Excellent presentation by Ewart Wooldridge, Chief Executive of the Leadership Foundation on aspects of change, followed by a team session working on a rich picture of our project, which produced a surprisingly (should I be surprised?) ‘rich’ picture which I think enabled us to get a lot of the ideas and obstructions and differences out on the table at a very early stage – which bodes well for the rest of the week. The picture featured pirates, sharks, swimmers, boats, treasure, a river, time, planets, and lots of other stuff – I will say no more. Said picture was then presented to two of the other teams who reciprocated and this led to a discussion around what we were all trying to do – with an unsurprising amount of synergy, similarity of issues (hate that words – what else can you say?) etc.
So again, so far so what? Well, as I’ve said, the rich picture session was a great way of surfacing ‘stuff’ – haven’t used the approach since I did my OU MBA way back and it’s as old as the hills, but it works. Pretty energised bunch – which can be faintly scary! – but interesting comment from Ewart Wooldridge that if you’d asked him in 2004 if he thought HE would have changed signicantly in 5 years time, he would have said no; if you ask him the same question now, he’ll say yes. So there’s a general feeling that things will be changing big time – and it’s better to be riding the wave than drowning, so I’m planning on learning to surf.
And that’s about it for now – time to get going on the day’s adventure. Coming up: Thinking Creatively About Change; more team sessions but I don’t know what we’ll be doing; Liquid Cafe (whatever that may be); then a workshop where I fancy ‘taking an appreciative approach to change’. Bon voyage!