Think systems, not goals

As the end of the year draws closer, our attention turns inevitably to what we want to achieve in the twelve months to come. It might be a personal goal or a professional one. Or perhaps something for our team. Or for the organisation as a whole. But setting ourselves goals and targets might not, it turns out, be the best way to go at all. Continue reading

Is it time to say goodbye to the annual planning cycle?

As we make our way steadily into the new year, most of us will have an idea of what we would have like to have achieved by the time Christmas comes around again. It seems like we have all the time in the world. Yet as the year progresses, our grand plans so often get lost in the mass of other ‘stuff’ that accumulates as the months progress. This annual cycle of planning and doing might have worked well when we were all farmers, tied to the rhythm of the seasons. But is it still the best way to get things done? Continue reading

Iteration, iteration, iteration

Business planning is an important part of setting up or running any organisation. It helps us to establish what we will do, how we will do it and how we will finance our activities. But it can be incredibly difficult to forecast exactly what is going to happen in the future. This means that the business plans we have slaved over for months can very easily become obsolete within weeks, if not days. So here’s an alternative approach: iteration. Continue reading

Academic workload modelling: Friend or foe?

One of the concerns that I hear most frequently from university senior managers is that they have no idea how members of their academic staff are spending their time. And a common complaint fromĀ academicsĀ themselves is that the ‘centre’ just doesn’t understand the huge number of different activities that they have to contend with. Workload modelling provides a way to bridge this gap. Continue reading

It’s a people thing

There is often a tendency to think that any problems within an organisation can be resolved, or any desired improvements made, with the application of a new process or the implementation of a shiny new piece of software. While understandable, this is potentially problematic. Because organisations are not about systems, processes and software – they are about people. Continue reading