Archive for October 12th, 2009

Moving from Operation to Strategy

Today has been much more of a mix than last week – and quite fragmented due to some double-booking. However, it has also been largely looking at strategic matters rather than operational detail, and it really feels like some of that is now beginning to slot into place.

After welcoming Matt back from leave it was an early start with EGIS. There was considerable discussion about some of the principles of how the governance structure should work, and how the planning cycle would work in reality. Whilst we don’t want to be constantly driven by short-term approaches, medium and long term strategy starts to look a little challenging when we know that there’s much that we don’t yet know and that some of what we think we know (assumptions about public funding for example) will probably change in the next few years.

I’ve been asked to think about how we can provide advice to Portfolio Strategy Group leads in helping them look ahead at what strategic options there might be in their areas. Need to think about that and talk to a few people.

It was good though to be moving away from prioritising the immediate list to starting to think how we might discuss and determine our overarching priorities for the next 1-2, or 2-3 years. So far the Governance process has delivered a certain part of what it promised,  in terms of getting decisions on priorities. However, we’re still not there yet in terms of full transparency and openness, though that should be resolved shortly to some degree. Having said that, there was certainly feedback from one Portfolio group that it does feel like real progress has been made in the last 9 months. It’s also important to remember that the process hasn’t even run through one full cycle yet.

My next meeting was with the external auditors, to receive their final report. However, train problems left them running late and in the end it was a rushed 15 minutes rather than the hour planned. We’ll need to talk again at the end of the week, now I’ve finally received the full report. There are definite areas for improvement around change control particularly and I’ll be picking those up with the IS&T Management Team in the next couple of weeks. We will have to respond formally to the recommendations, and will have to identify actions, allocate responsibilities, and set timescales.

Then not much time to prepare for my last appraisal of this year’s round. It’s always good to reflect on the year gone as well as to look at what objectives to agree for the year ahead. Today’s discussion was no exception – I find the appraisals very enjoyable as it is a concentrated period of time when I get to sit down with my managers and listen to them reflect on what’s gone well, and what they might learn from where perhaps things haven’t gone as smoothly. I’ve also used the appraisals to ask them to reflect not just on what they’ve achieved but also in how – which is as important often and of course is key to the intent of the SLS People Principles.

Straight out of that and into the Web Strategy workshop. Sadly, double-booking left me only able to attend the 1st half an hour, to do the intro and listen to Terri Gibson’s presentation. A quiet start but it seemed to pick up once the group working started. I walked passed it again later in the afternoon and it looked busy. We had a very good turn-out, with most if not all areas of the University nominating people to attend. Hopefully, what comes out of it will be helpful in identifying what people want from a new web strategy.

Then a quick bit of preparation ahead of briefing the SLS LICC on the Corporate Review of IT. Took people briefly through work since December (when the ‘IST Strategy’ was endorsed by the University Executive), the general strategy briefings in February-March, and the more recent updates, workshops, team meetings and the Principles draft currently out for IT-related staff to comment on. It was a good discussion, with some clear questions around the drivers for the review, what the outcomes might look like (although it is too soon to be very concrete about that), and of course what HR processes might be required. There was also a very useful question about supporting people who, once the areas are confirmed as in scope, may be concerned that their work spans that line between what is then taken forward into the review and that which won’t be considered. I’ll be picking that up with HR next week when I meet with them, as it is a good point and needs considering.

Then off to catch a train home as need to be home on time. We’re off to an awards evening tonight for my eldest son.

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