On planners and planning

I had the honour last week of being invited to present a workshop at the annual conference of the Higher Education Strategic Planners Association (HESPA) at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow. It was a great event. And I met some fantastic people. But it was the amount I learned in two short days that astounded me. Continue reading

VFM: It’s about the value, not the money

With higher education institutions in England being required to report annually on value for money, universities need to raise their game when talking about what they do and how well they do it.

As funding gets tighter and competition for students becomes more intense, our higher education institutions are coming under increasing pressure to justify the public investment that they receive. So it is now more important than ever that we are able to explain clearly and effectively what we do and how we use the funding entrusted to us to create lasting value. Continue reading

The executive summary: A reader’s plea

I love executive summaries. I like to read as many things as possible, but don’t always have as much time as I’d like. So a good executive summary allows me to get the gist of what something’s about, quickly and without fuss. And depending on what I find, I can then digest the key points and move on, grab a cup of tea and read the whole thing, or throw whatever it is in the recycling without feeling that I’m missing anything important.

So it pains me greatly when I come across an executive summary that doesn’t cut the mustard. And quite recently, that’s been happening a lot. 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

All change in local government

As the funding cuts start to bite, things are changing rapidly in local government. But this is only the start. My own local authority, for example, managed to find savings of £17.5m in 2011/12 and needs to identify another £30m by 2015. And if the trend continues, they estimate that they will have to cut expenditure by a further £39m by 2018. This will leave the Council with only half of the resources that it had in 2010/11. Continue reading