Friday, 5 March 2010

Barriers to being flexible – Myth or Reality?

As we have spent time talking to different faculties and services it is interesting that we each have our own perceptions of reality. During a recent interview it was noted that as a university we did not encourage cross faculty working, that our processes were not flexible enough to share funding for example. This was then discussed in another interview where the person mentioned that the university did have processes that allowed for sharing funding. What is the reality? It appears to be both are, depending on your own experiences and point of view. As Mark Stiles says “often the perception shapes the reality”, can we turn this around?

One member of staff (lets call them A) was able to achieve the “miracle” of cross faculty funding by looking at things from a different angle, another (B) tried to get the same result using the traditional point of view and was unsuccessful. At the moment there is no way of telling B about this way of working, or thinking. As Enable moves forward we will be able to share the experiences and the processes from staff member A and give them to staff member B to help change their reality. This is a fairly simplistic view that breaks down as we get into perceptions on what is responsiveness. Depending on who we have spoken to some staff members believe that for an employer lead award a years turnaround from design to delivery is perfectly reasonable, other staff (and employers) however find this an extremely long time to wait to train staff. Staff often say that validation takes too long, but investigation has shown the processes are very responsive, it is the information that takes time, along with organising meetings with relevant staff and employers (where needed). There is a recognition that as a HE organisation we are often obsessed with having meetings when it would be possible to discuss things either via email or online tools such as GoogleDocs or OfficeLive. A lot of the problems around these perceptions are based on changing peoples behaviours, supporting them using new technologies and providing tools to help reduce the amount of input they need to do into forms required for the CDD process.  This is the next 6 months of Enable, as we put together a “to be” model of the university, and plan the stages around how we get there. Along with this we will be implementing some prototypes, focused on supporting our quality service with external examiners.

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