Monday, 28 April 2008

VC meeting

Today started fairly early with a meeting with the Vice Chancellor at 8.30am. This was a welcome opportunity for me to put forward some of the issues we are facing at the moment, and make some proposals about how we want to interact with the new University Executive Board. We discussed user expectations a lot and how we might manage them. The consumerisation of IT has led to an increase in expectations - of simple, user friendly web interfaces (who needs to be trained to shop on-line at Tescos or use eBay?), of 24 by 7 availability (despite us having no 24 by 7 people), and cheap commodity products such as storage (a 1TB storage device last week cost me less than £250).

IT systems - or lack of them - is often used as a reason why people can't do their jobs better - "if only we had a system which would do this", or "how much more efficient we could be if only we had a system to do x". In practice, many changes and improvements can be made without massive IT systems - by analysing and improving business processes. Another issue we face is the increasing number and complexity of the systems we are supporting- investment in infrastructure may not be glamorous but is necessary if we are going to continue to maintain our existing service levels.

Mobility and the proliferation of devices which people need to access information on gives us support problems - and a dependence on factors outside of our control such as data and voice network providers.

But - there are many opportunities we need to take advantage of - IT is a strategic resource, and can make a difference to the bottom line of a business if used effectively. Prioritisation is key, with clear business benefits set out for all development work. It will be important that we interact with the new UEB at a strategic level, with regular contact and feedback. Hopefully the new Faculty structure will improve our liaison, communication and support.

This afternoon we had an Executive Meeting, where we discussed many of the issues above, as well as the implications of implementing Office 2007 on our managed desktop this summer and the need for some investment in reporting and production of management and planning information.


Anonymous said...

Have you ever read the book "Who moved my cheese"?

Chris Sexton said...

No - do you think I should?

Anonymous said...

Its very interesting.

Who Moved My Cheese? features four characters; two mice, "Sniff" and "Scurry", and two little people, miniature humans in essence, "Hem" and "Haw", live in a maze, a representation of one's environment, and look for cheese, representative of happiness and success. Initially without cheese, each group, the mice and humans paired off, travel the lengthy corridor searching for cheese. One day both groups happen upon a cheese-filled corridor in "Cheese Station C". Content with their find, the humans establish routines around their daily intake of cheese slowly becoming arrogant in the process.

One day Sniff and Scurry arrive at Cheese Station C to find no cheese left but they are not surprised. Noticing the cheese supply dwindling, they have mentally prepared for the arduous, but inevitable task of finding more cheese beforehand. Leaving Cheese Station C behind, they begin their hunt for new cheese together. Later that day, Hem and Haw arrive at Cheese Station C only to find the same thing, no cheese. Angered and annoyed, Hem demands "who moved my cheese?". Unprepared, the humans have counted on the cheese supply to be constant. After verifying that the cheese is indeed gone and ranting at the unfairness of the situation, both head home hungry. Returning the next day, Hem and Haw find the same cheeseless station. Beginning to realize the situation at hand, Haw proposes a search for new cheese, but Hem, dead set in his victimized mindset, nixes the proposal.

Meanwhile, Sniff and Scurry have found "Cheese Station N", a new supply of cheese. Back at Cheese Station C, Hem and Haw, affected by their lack of cheese, blame each other for their predicament. Hoping to change, Haw again proposes a search for new cheese. Hem however, comforted by his old routine and afraid of the unknown, again knocks down the idea. After many days in denial, including a search for cheese behind the wall of Cheese Station C, the humans remain without cheese. One day, realizing his debilitating fear, Haw begins laughing at the situation. Realizing he should move on, Haw enters the maze, but not before chiseling "If You Do Not Change, You Can Become Extinct" on the wall of Cheese Station C for his friend to ponder.

Still fearful of his trek, Haw jots "What Would You Do If You Weren't Afraid?" on the wall and, after thinking about it, begins his journey. Still with worry, perhaps he has waited too long to begin his search, Haw finds some scattered cheese and continues his search. Slowly losing his denial, Haw realizes that the cheese has not suddenly disappeared, but has dwindled from continual eating, and that the older cheese was not as tasty and had been moldy. After a let down, an empty cheese station, Haw begins worrying about the unknown again. Brushing aside his fears, Haw's new mindset allows him to again enjoy life; he has even begun to smile again and is realizing "when you move beyond your fear, you feel free." After another empty cheese station, Haw decides to go back for Hem with the few bits of new cheese he has managed to find.

Uncompromising, Hem turns away the new cheese to his friend's dismay. With knowledge acquired along the way, Haw heads back into the maze. Still going deeper into the maze, impelled by bits of new cheese here and there, Haw leaves a trail of writings on the wall, hopeful that his friend will be aided by them in his search for new cheese. Still traveling, Haw one day comes across Cheese Station N. Abundant with cheese, some varieties strange to him, he has found what he is looking for. After eating, Haw reflects on his experience. Pondering a return to his old friend, Haw decides to let Hem find his own way. Finding the largest wall in Cheese Station N, he writes:

Change Happens
They Keep Moving The Cheese
Anticipate Change
Get Ready For The Cheese To Move
Monitor Change
Smell The Cheese Often So You Know When It Is Getting Old
Adapt To Change Quickly
The Quicker You Let Go Of Old Cheese, The Sooner You Can Enjoy New Cheese
Move With The Cheese
Enjoy Change!
Savor The Adventure And Enjoy The Taste Of New Cheese!
Be Ready To Change Quickly And Enjoy It Again & Again
They Keep Moving The Cheese.