Friday, 21 February 2014

Academic Input

Rapid improvement events are still relatively new at The University of Sheffield. Anyone familiar with process improvement activities  will understand that it is imperative to have the input of all the process actors and immediate stakeholders. It is still early days here and getting the right staff to attend can sometimes be really difficult.

We've been very fortunate to have academic staff attend two of our rapid improvement events (RIE) recently (Learning & Teaching Contacts and Academic Probation). Getting academic staff in the room gives invaluable input because they tend to have loads of direct student contact. Our attendees have been very focused on the student experience and have lots of really good ideas to help improve things.

However, it can become very confusing. We tend to interview lots of academic staff as part of the planning stage of our projects, and each will have  a slightly different viewpoint according to faculty, department, teaching duties, research and personal interests etc. The variety is useful, yet it’s really hard to ensure that all of that information is fed back to the team and into the improved process. We’re working on it and want to get better at it.

Our challenge is to work with academic staff in the institution to raise awareness about process improvement projects and to continue to improve our own information gathering/sharing exercises. There is also more work to be done to grow a culture where participation in continuous improvement is understood and encouraged.

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