Friday, 25 February 2011

Coffee and Cake

in a department as big and complex as ours, we're constantly looking at ways of improving communication, and yesterday was the first of our coffee and cake mornings. An informal meeting between members of the Exec and 15 or so people invited at random - well I say at random, yesterday we had the whole of the Unix team there - does that say something about randomness, or the Unix team I wonder :-) The cake was provided by one of our Assistant Directors, and It looked very good, and I'm told it tasted as good. When you try something new you're always a bit worried that it won't work, and we could have sat for an hour in uncomfortable silence, but that wasn't to be. Lots of questions, lively discussion, and we ran over time by 30 mins. Some expected issues about the cuts and increased fees and how that might affect us. Some more local ones about our move into a new building later this year. And some very interesting ones - given that our annual report had just come out, did I feel we'd achieved enough in the last year or could we have done more, and what did I think we as a department were good at, and not so good at? Good interview questions! An interesting discussion at the end about the thorny topic of communication and were we getting it right. Too much, or too little, very difficult to win that one, especially with so many ways to communicate, so many places to store information, and so much to communicate about.

Later yesterday afternoon we had a visit to the Faculty of Medicine for a planning discussion - how we're going to support more distance learning and part time students, how we can improve some of our processes for non standard students including registration, computer account issue and Ucard production, and the different sorts of space and AV infrastructures they now need. Very productive, and it was good to go back to my old stomping ground as I worked there until 15 years ago.

We've just sent our monthly newsletter by email out to all staff and students, and the student one contains a link to a survey about mobile usage, what have they got, what'd they use it for etc. Will be very interesting to see results. Over 1000 students completed it in the few hours after it had gone out, so we're hopeful of a good, representative response by the time it closes.

1 comment:

Chris Willis said...

Yesterdays coffee meeting was a "good thing" in my opinion and not just thanks to Dave's fantastic chocolate brownies. Lots of interesting topics and it was good to be discussing them with different people. I'd recommend them to all those invited to attend.

I'm also optimistic that having much of the department in one building will be good for communication across teams. (Especially if cake is involved).

The only thing that was a bit daunting was the setting, sat opposite Andy B and his questions about ICO it was somewhat reminiscent of a visit from the auditors. Can we get some the IC's comfy seating for the boardroom ;-)