Sugar rush

To celebrate the end of Freshers Week and an amazing amount of hard work by everyone in the SU we’ve turned the staff room into a free, all-you-can-eat, post-freshers Pick n Mix.

Tomorrow: the sugar crash…


Spreading the word

Following the launch of the plan to SU (permanent) staff, we’ve now presented it to the Trustee Board and SU (student) staff - see photo above.

The Trustee Board offered some solid, challenging questions, as well as a lot of encouragement, before signing it off.  For most Student Staff this was the first they’d heard about the SU changing in general, so it was really good to get their reaction and feedback.

It was also a pretty powerful statement that Becky Fisher and Becky Newbury, both former student staff, were presenting to this audience. They’re both big drivers in us putting Student Staff at the heart of the process, so it’s going to be exciting to see this side of things start to build momentum.


Toasting the future

This fortnight represents A Big Milestone for The Big Plan, as we unveil it to SU staff, Trustees and Student Staff.

First on the list were SU staff, as part of a Big Plan staff day on the Colchester campus. After months of effort and hard work from staff at every level of the SU it genuinely felt like the start of a new chapter in the SU’s history.

To celebrate, we surprised staff by switching up the mid-morning coffee break into a champagne break, creating a really nice opportunity for us all to toast the new-look SU together.

We were also joined at the break by the VC, Professor Anthony Forster, who praised the fact that we were being brave with our plans and thanked staff for playing a key part in increased NSS scores for the SU and the University. 


Declaring war on clutter

As part of change we’re getting our act together and tidying our workspaces, so that we can be more focused, better organised and generally happier.

One example: over the next couple of weeks, 10 staff have volunteered to be clean desk champions and test out ways of making us tidier and more productive.

Watch this space to see how they get on…


Almost there…

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been spending most of my time holed up in Zest, pulling together the final version of The Big Plan (see photo above for evidence that I haven’t been sat playing Candy Crush Saga or whatever).

This past week I’ve presented the plan to a mix of Directors, Sabbs, staff and one external trustee (thanks Alison), to make sure that everyone’s happy that it’s headed in the right direction.

So far the feedback has been great and I think there’s a genuine sense that we’re onto something really exciting.

I’ll be continuing conversations over the next couple of days and then getting this ready to present to all SU staff at the staff day in Southend on Mon 16th Sept, followed by the Trustee Board on Fri 20th.

If you want an insight in the meantime feel free to give me a shout.


Cup of change update!

Craig’s been out awarding Cups of Change again, this time to recognise the hard work put in by everyone involved in the three change projects on space, staff and internal comms.

The following people can now be seen sipping from a brightly coloured cup; Jenny Anslow, John Valerkou, Katie King, Mike Bamford, Leoni Harvey, Dom King, Sian Lovesy, Lisa Smith, Julie Willis and Karen Ward.

Congratulations all for helping make change happen :)


Change projects deliver solutions

Yesterday saw the three change project groups present their solutions on the three biggest barriers for staff effectiveness, namely that we need more space, more staff, and better internal communications.

Each of the groups had an hour to present and discuss their proposals with the Sabb and Directors team, who would then decide which elements to take forward. 

The quality of the work was extremely high and it was clear that each of the proposals had been well thought through, getting under the skin of the issues before addressing considered solutions. Considering what a busy time of year this has been for everyone this is really impressive.

Virtually all of the group’s suggestions were approved and Craig has immediately tasked a staff member and Director to implement each of the three proposals urgently.

The project lead partnerships are as follows (each has been given one week to finalise an action plan and will report to Craig as sponsor of the projects):

  • Space  John P and Reeves
  • Internal comms  Jan and Zoe
  • Staffing  Jenny and Marianne
Once again, one of the biggest successes that the project groups fed back on was how productive it was to work with people from across the organisation. In this respect these groups have clearly shown that a different way of working is achievable (and enjoyable). 

Definitely another big step in the right direction :)


Towards ‘no bullshit’ values

Australian software company Atlassian are an amazing example of how to create values that genuinely reflect their culture.

They include 'Open company, no bullshit', 'Don't f*** the customer' and 'Play, as a team', and they were all developed as a result of staff articulating values that they (or the company) embodied.

And as the (weirdly dated) video above shows, everyone seems to embrace, even celebrate them as a result.

Definitely a big inspiration for where we’re heading…


Smarter project management

Searching for a decent bit of project management software has been like our holy grail over the past couple of years. 

We’ve used/trialled/got-frustrated-with MS Project, Basecamp and others before returning to creating basic schedules on Excel, which is far from perfect but at least everyone gets.

Now we’re cautiously optimistic that we’ve found a solution in the shape of Smartsheet, which takes all of the good bits from MS Project and makes them user-friendly to everyone that’s ever used Excel.

It’s online, meaning that you can access it from anywhere (including an iPad app) and it has nice features like being able to email reminders to project team members in advance of meetings. 

We’re currently moving across all of our forthcoming schedules onto Smartsheet from Excel and will be running a beginner’s guide training for project managers on Thursday 15th August.

Fingers crossed it will make managing all of our projects much easier.


Class in a glass Change in a cup

As part of the Big Plan we wanted to find a way of recognising staff that have helped create change. That’s when Keith came up with the idea of the Cup of change.

Available in an attractive range of day-glo colours, the cups are personalised and presented by Craig to members of staff that are making change happen.

First port of call was the Change Group, who each received a cup (it comes with a built-in straw!) in recognition of their work on change so far. 

More cups will be handed out over the forthcoming weeks, so watch out for Craig and his magic sack of cups in an office near you…