Saturday, 15 January 2011

How to make Governance interesting

A great day at Essex Futures yesterday.  Governance may seem a potentially dull topic, but we managed to put together a day which I at least found very interesting.  I think the participants did, too: there was certainly none of that glazed look one sometimes sees on such occasions.

We started the day, after a brief introduction by Colin Riordan, the VC, with Colin interviewing the Chair of Council.  Somehow this format made the delivery of information about the role of Council much more interesting than a straight presentation.

Following that, we used a World Cafe type format for participants to talk in small groups to the VC (at one table) the Chair of Council (at another), the DVC (at a third) and the Registrar and Secretary (at a fourth).  This was followed by summaries from three of them (the Chair having to leave for another appointment) and a panel-type discussion.  Again, this seemed a much more engaging format than presentations: and lot of ground was covered which might not have emerged through more traditional approaches, not to mention the more human type of interaction it encouraged.

After lunch, participants were given a real proposal that was presented to the University for a decision, and discussed, in small groups, what they would decide and why.  Their criteria were very good (though being academics, they wanted to defer the decision until they had more information...), and the Registrar was able to tell them what really happened...

Finally we had a presentation (the first of the day) from a visiting VC from another University: Dominic Shellard from De Montfort.  In a very open and informal way he discussed his experiences and then engaged in discussion with participants.

I certainly learned a lot, and trust others did too.

And the whole day without a single powerpoint slide!

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