Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Swop Shop

The Sheffield Leader Programme is part of the University's leadership development strategy and runs at 4 different levels. Yesterday I went to presentations by the impact groups from one of the Leader 3 cohorts. Basically the Impact Groups, formed by participants on the programme have to identify a University wide problem and come up with possible solutions, assuming that there is no budget available.  The groups work together, and as well as delivering a solution, also learn about themselves and other members of the group's leadership styles and how to work well together.

One of the groups had already been to interview me, and they were working on a project called "Did You Know?" which aimed to come up with a way to collect and make available stories from across the University which would grab the attention of prospective students, or staff, or the media, or our neighbours in the City. Stories which are out of the ordinary, exciting, and make the University unique. They'd already unearthed a number, and were working on ways to collect more,  store them and make them available.

The other group were looking at ways of sharing information across the University in an informal way - not just good practice, but also learning from things that maybe hadn't gone to plan. They had come up with the idea of a Swop Shop - some of us in the room were old enough to remember the multicoloured variety - to get people to share things. A simple idea, requiring nothing more than a room, some refreshments and some post it notes. To participate in the Swop Shop you come with something you are proud of and want to share, and something you want help with, written on post it notes. The post it notes are stuck up, themes can be identified, and you gather round and discuss them, either sharing your best practice and offering help to people who need it, or getting help. The group had tried it out in a few different situations, and in general it had worked well. I liked the simplicity and informality of it, and could see it working in many situations. How to roll it out further, whilst keeping it informal might be an interesting challenge. I can see it helping to bridge the gap between academic departments and professional services, and look forward to seeing how it develops.

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