Friday, 15 April 2011

The importance of well designed underwear, and the rest of the conference

One of the sessions at the AMHEC conference was about communicating, especially in times of change. The basic principles of be open and honest, understand and know your audience, and make your point clearly were all illustrated, and also some good examples of how not to do it. Tell your audience what's in it for them, pick the right channel and medium, have a purpose to what you're saying, understand the message and get the right sentiment across sound like common sense, but some people get it disastrously wrong.

Everyone remembers the sacking of soldiers last Christmas by email - a clear case of choosing the wrong channel. My favourite was the UBS dress policy. UBS are a big swiss bank, who decided to update some policies, and in doing so came up with a 44 page dress code which contained such classics as:

"Underwear is among the most intimate parts of our clothing."
"Your underwear must not be visible through your clothes, or stand out."
"Your figure should not suffer from the way you wear your underwear.

The code quickly went viral, and had to be withdrawn and rewritten - a clear case of not understanding your audience!

Lots of good advice, including the importance of motivating staff and providing good leadership. Share everything, even what you don't know, stay connected and visible, and think of yourself as a marketeer in times of change.

Another session was on next generation learning environments, and focused on the importance of well designed spaces. The presenter was from Woods Bagot, and they'd done some nice work in Australia - the University of South Australia, and the University of Melbourne. Some innovative work, with many of the principles we used when designing the IC - a variety of learning environments, including those to support active learning and peer to peer learning. Lots of good stuff about the importance of healthy spaces - fresh air, ability to control temperature and light, and windows to maintain contact with the outside world. Of the three different sorts of space - learning-centred, student-centred and informal, the latter is growing in importance, and will soon overtake the other two in terms of student choice. It's the reason if you don't provide it, students will go the nearest Starbucks to sit in a relaxing, wifi enabled atmosphere!

The next session was by yours truly, and as I was speaking to a mainly non IT audience, concentrated on some of the challenges we face around user expectations, mobility, support and the place of social media in communication. I also concentrated on the need for IT departments to work in partnership with other departments, and for them to understand our challenges and work with us.  Seemed to go down well - but suppose only the audience can comment on that.

An enjoyable conference, and nice to be with a mixture of different professionals.

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