Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bristol

ODHEG: Debrief from meeting on 11/12th October 2012 in Bristol.

Mentoring Professors and Senior Academic Staff (optional group discussion).

Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bristol

There was a good turnout for this group discussion in the first morning meeting. Meriel Box first provided an overview to put the topic in context. There is a need in Universities to develop staff into roles such as Professors, Readers, and Principle Lecturers, part of this would be developing talent through Mentoring/Coaching. Merial Box mentioned the Richard Bolden Report (Leadership Foundation) to read through for context in this area.

In our groups we discussed Mentoring and Coaching as formal programmes as well as informal practices. Some members of the group suggested that a formal scheme may not always be the right route for academics as so much informal mentoring happens currently, to varying degrees of good and sometimes bad practice. Some institutions view ‘Mentoring’ as ‘Supervising’ – some of which is not done very well, therefore it may be possible that some academics would be ‘turned off’ with a ‘Mentoring programme’. However we spoke about the use of language and positioning of mentoring programmes and other development interventions for our academic audience. It was suggested that we use language that would resonate more with the audience, so for example rather than a ‘Mentoring programme for grant funding application’ perhaps package as ‘collaboration’ rather than ‘mentoring’. Another example would be ‘New heads programme – treating people right’ rather than ‘Leadership and Management programme’ or ‘HR Leadership programme’.

Welcome by Jean Harrison

Jean Harrison welcomed the whole group and opened up with some thoughts around the areas to think about – 3 ODHEG main objectives:

  • Strategy (our role & contribution, making our goals a reality)
  • CPD (e.g.  JISC has funded our CPD for digital literacies, to make the most of this)
  • Tools & Techniques (share our own work, using our expertise and sharing our practice)

Jean suggested we think about what we want to get out of this year individually as part of the ODHEG group and to think about our CPD goals. Jean also spoke about communities of good practice – to actively gather information on how OD & academics / professional services work together and collaborate – to share and discuss this good practice at future events (and online).

High Performance Working (Sustainable High Performance)

Guest speaker:  Mark Lewis from University of Leeds talked about a different proposition in sustaining high performance working. The presentation was very thought provoking and somewhat controversial at times with differing opinions around the room.

Mark started off suggesting that sustainable high performance needs to be more of the norm in Universities and professors agree that they would like high performing teams. However they tend to retreat from the actual implementation of a strategy to work towards high performing teams due to the complexity of the institution and find it difficult to get a handle on it.

Marks observations are that people don’t tend to proactively go out and find out how our work links to others work and this can have a detrimental effect on the service, performance, completed work and the successful implementation of it including task finish groups and project teams. This may be because of the lack of;  relationships, synthesis, cohesion, integration and sense making that is perhaps missing at this stage to be able to gain the results required and transform to a higher sustained performance. At this transformation stage, it may manifest itself as a team that is; creative, has a vision, is inventive and works on sustaining cohesive working relations with stakeholders and colleagues.

Mark talked about a model to think about and break down and add to it as we see fit. Mark asked the groups to complete their own ‘Current Organisational Development Activity’ to help demonstrate and link the interactions between the activities and the level of interaction they have – low, medium or high interaction.

Mark suggested that organisational barriers are put in place to prevent joining up of these interactions – joining up the dots in other words. There is a need to break down these barriers to allow for high performance. We need to synthesise more and have a balance of analysis and synthesis, as we are good at analysing and making it work however we don’t synthesis this, as a result some people are perceived to do dumb things! We could do an alignment exercise with senior managers regarding OD initiatives and the interdependency of it.

Using small marginal gains to increase performance could be better than radical and risky gains. For example a cyclist who wants to increase performance by 15%. They have 2 choices – a quick gain would be to use drugs (which has shown to increase performance by 15%) or instead use small marginal gains which would eventually increase performance by (more than) 15% – for example, they wash their hands more often and use sanitizer – this prevents germs, which prevents colds and sickness, which means the cyclist is healthier, has more energy / time/ focus to train – therefore more training means better performance.

In Leeds they have an OD tool for Management Development –  ‘People Management Framework’, and have a People Management staff survey through Bristol online survey with a  traffic light system. The survey response rate was 12% and now has gone up to 66% as staff feel that something may be done about the results this time. Leeds have also reviewed how people feel they are being developed –  the results seem to be that people are now talking about performance management and challenge.

ODHE SDP: Digital Literacies Project – Dr Bex Lewis

Screen Shot 2012-10-12 at 12.13.47JISC has funded our CPD for digital literacies, so we need to make the most of the investment. Bex showed us information via slideshare ( and asked if we have used this and to think about and discuss how we could use this along with other software tools such as; Storify, Pinterest, Survey Monkey, Audioboo, Adobe Connect, Picasa, PebblePad, Prezi, Snagit, Vimeo and Blogging with word press. I am going to investigate the usage of each of this software to establish how they may be used in my role at Strathclyde. 


Word – blog is free. Word – need to pay for the hosting/domain name for this, however it does have more functionality, so depending how you want to use a blog will depend what you go for.

Action for odhegroup – to establish a blog diary across the group – regular blogs – average each member to send a blog every 6 months to

Income Generation and Commercialisation – Linda Bryant, Cranfield University.

Linda provided an overview of the Cranfield Business Skills Development Programme, the drivers, the objectives, and the achievements (evaluation and impact) of the participant’s application of learning back in the work place.

The target audience is mostly early career researchers but not all. They are on the 5th cohort (this is over 3 years). 4 cohorts so far and have had 60 people go through the programme. The programme consists of 2 modules over 3 days (1 and a half day’s for each module) with a few months between each module.

Purpose of the programme

To provide early carer academics with support to help them transition from researcher/member of a research team to independent income generation.

Drivers for the programme:

Cranfield University receives only 15% of its funding from HEFCE, 30% from competitive proposals to research councils, 30% form student fees and the rest from commercial activities, competitive tenders to commercial organisations for research, consultancy, CPD etc.

Contents of the programme:-

  • Building consultative relationships
  • Focus on people factors – how they talk to clients to help them make decisions
  • The emotional aspects
  • Know the market (know the competitors)
  • The process
  • MBTI – self awareness
  • Client needs (role play actor from the management school – strategic questions & planning)
  • Strategic networking
  • Costing (basic) to be realistic about that they are charging
  • Making business presentations (how they get the attention of the client)
  • Delivering projects (they need to build a bridge, bid for resources etc., plan etc.)
  • View from an experienced academic (young academic postdoc, to bringing in income, to becoming a Professor) talks about failures and successes.

Other parts of the programme include talking about MBTI – The process you prefer to use in evaluating information and coming to decisions – how clients may make decisions (thinking/feeling).

People with a preference for ‘thinking’ typically step out of situations in order to analyse logically from a distance. (ACTION) Characteristics: Guided by objective logic, focus on cause and effect, at work emphasise involvement with tasks, seek logical clarity, question first, have an interest in data, know when logic is required, prefer things to be objective, remain detached when making a decision, weighing the pros and cons, search for the flaws in an argument and strive to be fair.

People with a preference for feeling typically step into situations to weigh human values and motives. Characteristics guided by personal values and convictions, they look for common ground and shared values, at work emphasise and support the process, seek emotional clarity, accept first, have an interest in people, know when support is required, prefer things to be personal, remain personally involved when making a decision, weighing values, search for points of agreement in an argument and strive to be compassionate.

Linda then asked the group – what questions might you need to ask a client to ascertain their preference to making decisions?

  • What kind of information would you find useful?
  • What would be good for you as an outcome?
  • How would you like to work?
  • What would be successful to you?
  • What support would you need?
  • What is concerning you?

Linda also explained a hypothetical scenario:-

Divide the group into preferences of thinking/feeling.  You would like your client to provide £0.5 million for an Aid to Africa project. What arguments would you use to convince the client to provide such an amount?.

To take into account that they may have the opposite preference to you and that because they are ‘thinking’ does not mean they want just all facts and figures – they will need that but also the human element. Same with feeling – they don’t just want to know the human benefits, however will focus on this, they will still need some factual evidence to make decisions.

Achievements (evaluation and impact)

Some examples :-

By changing the way he talked with his current project contact he has brought in 3 additional projects – 1 for himself 2 for others in the Dept. In total £180K plus a licensing agreement that will be very lucrative.

Hi Linda, I got my first project (entirely thought, developed, and managed) funded by a private company! I think it is a measurable performance enough. Well obviously the business skill program helped as many other things, but one thing that the client appreciated a lot and I learned in your program is how to treat the client: as a collaborator and part of the team and not as the enemy. Thanks a lot Dr Maurizio Collu.

Dear Linda, Just a short message that AFTER the last event, I have received £50K for 5 months from DSTL of Military of Defence (MOD). It is really a good news. Best regards, Meiling PI of an EPSRC, IMRC and IVHM projects.

Hi Linda, I just wanted to let you know that we have been awarded the Wessex Water contract (£32k) I told you about during my 6 month post-business programme review. This has just proven your words about the price and value relationship. I though we priced it quite high and my manager said it should be £20-25k at the most! He was wrong. I will definitely be more confident about pricing our work in the future and I will always remember your advice! Thank you. Have a nice day, Jitka Dr Jitka Macadam Research Fellow.

A £30k EPSRC project – achieved due to an understanding of MBTI and how to accommodate other preferences and to influence decisions.

A target of £600K became an income of £1.2m.

Gaining a new project and a funded PhD with Rolls-Royce.

She ran the first seminar with industrial participants to disseminate her new research findings and had 2 companies signing up to work with her as a result. She ran a second event as the first one gave her so much more confidence – another 2 companies contacted her the same evening to agree to work with her. Likely income for this calendar year = £1m.

‘Saved’ a PhD student from going off the rails by using a different questioning technique.

Mainly from the School of Applied Sciences (some people are promoted to Academic Fellow).

Engineering have started to increase participation – word of mouth CDS – Shrivenham have a different programme developed for them.

Some participants from SoM.

2 people from the last 2 cohorts have been promoted to Academic Fellow.

Next Event – Jean Harrison and Meriel Box

We were asked as a group to think about what we would like out of the next meeting, some ideas were put forward. My own ideas were quite specific:

  • To gain knowledge, insight and share about how OD departments in HE implement successful OD initiatives.
  • Knowledge and sharing of Leadership Development initiatives for academics.
  • Knowledge and sharing Coaching and mentoring initiatives for academics.
  • Knowledge and sharing Culture Change / Employee Engagement initiatives.