Last week I spent two days with the other members of the Exec at our annual awaydays - just once a year we get together for an intense period of facilitated training and planning. It's expected that something will happen while we're away - we've had an assortment of disasters including the famous Sheffield floods, so the incident plan is normally dusted off, but this time nothing untoward happened (or if it did, no-one told us!).
We had a very useful and busy time looking at a number of things. A useful exercise was looking at the external environment, and all of the different factors that could affect the HE sector, the University, and us. These then fed into an exercise of scenario planning, where we looked at possible different scenarios of what the world might be like in 5 years time, and how we might have to change to adapt to it. Something we'll be carrying on with the other managers in the department. As always, a big action plan resulting from the couple of days, and our facilitator will be checking up on us at regular intervals to make sure we've done everything we said we would.
This morning we had the third of our coffee and cake sessions, where we invite a random selection of staff to meet us for an hour to discuss anything they like. Unfortunately our normal baker, Dave, is on holiday so I volunteered. Baking is not normally my strong subject, but the apple spiced muffins and banana & walnut loaf seemed to turn out OK. Mind you, I did have a couple of helpers during the baking process.
A lively discussion this morning, and topics included various capital projects around the University - the main question being why isn't the Information Commons Phase 3 being funded at the moment? We also talked about the financial situation facing the sector and the University, and the possibility of changes to the way we work with IT staff in faculties and departments. A lot of enthusiasm for more closer working.
Now I'm off to catch the train for my annual trip to the Chelsea Flower Show. The horticultural highlight of my year. Several pictures will be tweeted during the course of tomorrow if you're interested!