Sunday, 24 April 2016

University Change Management Special Interest Group

On Friday, I attended a special interest group (SIG) for university change management teams. The event is coordinated by sums consulting and was hosted at Kings College London. The agenda for the day was varied and perhaps highlights the nebulous nature of change management in higher education. Representatives from projects offices, strategy and planning departments, with an Organisational Development interest, business process improvement expertise and business analysts were in attendance.

The amazing Kings College Chapel
The agenda consisted of: a context piece looking at the global change picture for universities; a case study from Kings College about academic performance management (not as sinister as it sounds); the initial findings from the sums research about the size, shape and role of change teams; three presentations about key challenges of change management in HE.

My main takeaways from the day are:

1. Before I reached the event I observed on the tube some signs proudly displayed "improvement work underway". One should remember that most of the improvement activity is highly inconvenient to most users of the tube (even if it delivers long term benefits).

2. How disruptive should improvement/ change management be? Disruptive change management has its place, but needs to be used appropriately, with strong leadership and clear links to strategic ambitions.

3. We know that change management often requires us to work within matrix structures. However, resources (particularly finance, but not exclusively) are often still in silos which makes delivering the change difficult in practice.

4. Some change management projects focus on monetary saving, these are important but the message should more clearly articulate the benefits not features of change. Where have we added value?

5. Creating a culture of continuous improvement is essential, yet incredibly difficult. How would we measure this, what would the artefacts would evidence this?

These questions/ thoughts are not necessarily new to me (or anyone else) but it was useful to find out that lots of other universities are also working through these challenges. It is also a pleasure to work in a sector where we have a culture of sharing problems, case studies and good practice.

I look forward to attending the next SIG to hear how things have progressed,

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