Wednesday, 9 May 2012

The Final Story: Change Management

The Beginnings of Enable: Enable began as the University recognised that it had always been quite good at running individual change projects and managing change within curriculum design, however that recognition was tempered with the realisation that its change projects occurred in isolation, so they produced silos or they didn’t join up effectively with other things. It was also acknowledged that, although changes in curriculum design were effective at the point of teaching and learning, the administrative aspect could be made more efficient and flexible to meet the changing requirements of the institution. Each of these issues caused effort to be duplicated. The challenge for Enable was one of joining up the numerous change initiatives and looking at how they impacted on each other, whilst supporting change.

The Change Management Approach: The project team contacted Heads of Service and Deans asking about initiatives that were running in their areas that would impact on Curriculum Design and Development within the University. The original list included 15 initiatives (for the full list of initiatives raised during the life of the project check the list out here These initiatives included reviews, projects, and administrative changes. The project team identified the responsible 'initiative manager',  who was subsequently interviewed to discuss the origins of their work, issues they were hoping to address and any issues they encountered that were outside the scope of the original project but would nevertheless impact on their ability to deliver a successful output to their initiative. The project also discussed issues around curriculum design with other stakeholders, including tutors, administrators and support staff. The project team collated 'out of scope' issues and raised them with the Senior Management Working Group, a group of individuals from senior management and the executive. Based on the presentations, a number of new initiatives started up. These new initiatives used the recommendations of the Enable project team with regards to stakeholder engagement and understanding the requirements of everyone engaged in a particular area.

Lessons Learned: The project team felt this Change Management Approach was successful in its aims. It raised awareness of the need for Change Management across the institution and was able to highlight issues that projects were experiencing with the relevant staff to achieve action. The project team note that the benefits of the Change Management Approach would not have occurred without the following:
  • A consistent message which could be given out from project team to all stakeholders engaged in initiatives. This resulted in hearing our own message repeated back to us.
  • Independence/ neutrality of the project team - the project team were well known in the University, and were seen as discreet and independent of any service or faculty. This allowed stakeholders to speak freely about perceptions and issues encountered. An 'agent provocateur' department is very useful.
  • The ability to understand and communicate links to systems and processes, this was something that developed during the project but was very useful in explaining how we could move forward as an institution. This was particularly useful in highlighting issues with our quality processes for external examiners and the work taken on by administrators in the faculties. Enterprise Architecture models were a useful tool to communicate the duplication of effort and information to senior management.
  • A leader with sufficient weight to open doors to the right people at the start of the project, which helped in organising initial meetings with senior staff.
  • Presentation is important and needs to fit your organisation. For example, for us it was important not to badge things internally as 'Enable' as this had the issue of being seen as an external project, not something internally driven. By stating 'we have found.../evidence/experience has shown us that....' it was seen as part of our day to day work, which means the work we are doing can carry on beyond Enable. 
  • A consistent executive/senior management team, with a clear strategy is helpful when trying to say where you are going. Alongside this, governance needs to be clear and needs to support both the initiation of initiatives and their closure when necessary. It's OK to stop initiatives where there is no longer a benefit to them running, where their benefit is outweighed by a negative impact elsewhere or where they don't have a clear goal.

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