Future Proofing Higher Education/Leading transformational change #LTC2012

Hosted at the Royal Society of Medicine, London by The Leadership Foundation for HE and HEFCE.


Innovation, Creativity & Agility – Matthew Taylor, CEO RSA. Great speaker.


Need to think about people & their roles in very different ways. Danger of a social aspiration gap – don’t think or work in the right way to create the desired future. How do we get people to be the people they need to be to create the future they say they want? Universities need to think radically to release their hidden wealth – social innovation. By definition Universities do innovation – would be strange if the average University was not more innovative than the average supermarket. But…Universities may be innovative in what they do, but not in what they are. Innovative in doing, structurally conservative. Comment on his blog: running a Victorian business in a digital world. Doesn’t really believe in the concept of leadership – vastly overstated! Yes! But if anything leaders can help organisation to realise that can’t go on like this anymore, have to change.


Four areas where Universities have opportunity for social innovation:

  1. Core business model. Has to change. Costs, labour intensive, overheads – combine 3 functions, knowledge (research), service delivery (teaching), civic function (BCE) – too much for one organisation? Shared services…example of changed model, Refuse Collection. Used to be council’s responsibility – now moved to individual. Co-production. Couldn’t meet recycling targets with old model. So given threats/changes, how to reconceptualise processes that manage inputs/outputs. Need to include collaboration. Only connect.
  2. Universities as organisations. Collaboration – including internally, shared initiatives are challenging. VC may commit to partnership with Local Authority – Authority can’t understand why then has no power to make the rest of the organisation commit. Innovation springs from bringing people together ref this brilliant video by Stephen Johnson I referenced on the JISC EA Foundation Programme. Only connect.
  3. The student relationship/offer. 2 conflicting paradigms: the learner & the consumer, problem created by reverse hierarchy: learner defers, consumer demands. Need new partnership-type model. US – major cost is providing fripperies for students as consumers: sports etc. Another conflict: content vs. employability. Content is no longer exclusive, but ubiquitous: more mediation, facilitation. Employability: now high priority. Reasonably high quality job placement will increasingly be part of offer. Also, train students too much as individuals, whereas all about teams, relationships, collaboration. Ref Enterprise Architecture: the value is in the relationships. Comment: in the digital, connected, edgeless world, no participant is an island, everything is co-dependent – was probably always becoming true, now even more so. Only connect.
  4. Connectivity. Be part of meeting the challenges of the city they are close to. Creative alliances between local government, business & community, & HE – based on common understanding of challenges & strategy of place. & Universities should lead. So – only connect x 4.

Raises thoughts about applying EA to all kinds of things: as well as relationships within institutions, relationships between institutions & external partners, employers, learners etc.

Some institutions need to make a change as profound as IBM: from computer manufacturer to consultancy. Need to subvert the HE hierarchy as expressed in league tables etc. Don’t reflect capacity for innovation.

Would be great person to address LJMU Senior Management within the strategy formulation process.


Transferable Learning: Durham, Cathedrals Group, Northumbria.

Pecha kucha approach. So, gutta percha again. Not quite…

Durham. Project to identify whether there are leadership, management & governance behaviours that impact on performance, & develop an associated diagnostic toolkit. 8 thematic areas that underpin excellence in high performing departments: approaches to change management, communications, research & teaching. Strategy, culture & leadership. Staffing & rewards. Take a look.

The Cathedrals Group. Distinctiveness & Identity. Led by Ewart Wooldridge, CEO LFHE. Seemed initially to be specific to this grouping of faith-based institutions. So what is more general?

Unmemorable mnemonic: NPVCC (obviously unmemorable as I’ve forgotten the N!)

  • Place
  • Values
  • Community
  • Clusters

5 ways to achieve distinctiveness.

Ewart: gone off visions & missions – hurrah! – more important to have a compelling narrative that ties the whole place together (ref the Big Lubowski). Place there again. Bottle of champagne from Ewart if can send LFHE a better mnemonic.

Northumbria. ROI tool ref staff development activities.

Creating Value: Exeter/Falmouth

To develop resources for managers in HE to create efficiencies. Research & analysis leading to online resource (to be released soon) & workshops. Discussion: how to adopt a bottom-up approach & get input/creativity from the staff involved/affected. Benefits realisation – but need a baseline. Communications!

Not a criticism of individual initiatives, but there seem to be an awful lot of toolkits out there – hard to get round them all! & probably duplication – a lot of similar stuff may already be available on eg the JISCinfoNet site, other JISC resources etc.

University College Falmouth – Enterprise Architecture. EA, PRINCE2 & ITIL to manage change. LEAN – rapid innovation events. Encouraging adoption of a holistic overview, breaking down silos. Output: PEAT, Project Enterprise Architecture Toolkit. Can be seen on Exeter site. Must take a look.

So…a lot of very good/interesting work going on.


Shared Services in HE/Canterbury Christ Church University

See http://www.sharedservicearchitects.co.uk

Dominic Macdonald-Wallace. Postgraduate certificate in shared services. 4 ways to act when up against the wall:

  1. Tough it out – lower costs, reengineer
  2. Sell to others – if achieve 1.
  3. Outsource – if can’t manage 1.
  4. Share services – when all else fails.

What makes shared services in HE so difficult? The usual suspects…fear of failure, inertia, competition, not invented here, not convinced of benefits. Private sector: 60% fail because of: failure of leadership, too optimistic & under-resourced, lack of skills in practitioners. Cynic in me says: well you would say that if you were flogging training. MSP & PRINCE2 – essential skills. What about EA? Essential tool for understanding services. 


Note: apparently TUPE is going soon, because government view (!) is that safeguarding the rights of workers is too expensive/adversely affects growth & job creation…


Another very interesting session, worth looking into further.


Launch of the Innovation & Transformation Fund – LFHE, HEFCE, UUK et al

Four strands: efficiency benchmarking; procurement (collaboration, efficiency); rethinking academic practice & the student relationship – how do we transform academic culture/practice for the benefit of learners; dissemination & learning – creation of an innovation & efficiency hub.


EOIs by 23rd February; outcomes 16th March; invited full proposals 20th April; results 18th May.


HEFCE: initiatives/proposals need ownership/leadership at VC level. 


UUK: much more emphasis on vfm. Sharing: the most effective way of leading change.


The end…


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