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Innovation Seminar II: “Institutional change: practice, systems and processes”

The second JISC-SSBR Institutional Innovation online seminar to feedback and consult on some of the conclusions from the synthesis of Institutional Innovation projects takes place as follows

Date: Friday 3rd Dec  2010

Time: 12:00-13:00 (please login to elluminate between 11.30 and 12:00)
Venue: Elluminate Session – http://elluminate.jisc-ssbr.net/join_meeting.html?meetingId=1250872206854

Registration: To register for the event please complete the booking form

Who should attend: The seminar is open to anyone who has an interest in the impact of emergent technologies on institutions in further and higher education.

Full detail are available at http://ssbr1210.inin.jisc-ssbr.net/


You are warmly invited to participate in the second SSBR Innovation Seminar, which will focus on the lessons learned from institutional change in practice, systems and processes.

The Briefing papers for this session can be found here.

Lessons, or questions for discussion can be found here.

Institutions that are developing the innovative use of technology across an entire University, College or regional community will be required to review and change existing business processes; to implement new technical systems;  to review existing policy and strategy; and engage staff and students in the revised practices of learning, teaching and research.

Institutional exemplars have looked at changes to improve systems and processes to support admissions, retention and motivation, personalised student information portals, implement new practice in assessment, develop new learning spaces, implement emergent technologies and support new innovation.

The seminar will look at the approaches and tools used by institutions to bring about change and innovation within their organization;  examine the effectiveness and efficiency of several systems wide approaches and provide examples of where approaches have be used successfully.

Participants will be invited to consider the conclusions from the synthesis activities and respond to questions from their own experience. You will be encouraged to provide examples from your own experience or the work of other projects. We will use your feedback to inform the development of a series of briefings on lessons from the Institutional Innovation Programme.

We hope you will join us on Elluminate; and please spread the word among colleagues!

Contact Paul Bailey (paul@jisc-ssbr.net) for further information, or problems with registration. For technical support in accessing Elluminate please contact Joe Rosa (joe@jisc-ssbr.net)

We look forward to seeing you at the online seminar!

Best wishes
George Roberts
JISC Institutional Innovation Support Project

Seminar Report

Seminar 2: Institutional Innovation and Change

The second Innovation Seminar feeding back the lessons learned from the Institutional Innovations Programmes was held on 3rd December. The seminar focussed on lessons from projects around institutional change, in particular design and development of processes to support the take-up of innovative technologies across institutions.

The seminar can be viewed in Elluminate at Institutional Change: practice, systems and process 3rd  December  
(http://elluminate.jisc-ssbr.net/play_recording.html?recordingId=1250872206854_1291375269759 )  and a copy of the presentation is available for download here http://ssbr1210.inin.jisc-ssbr.net/files/2010/12/Seminar2-Institutional-Change.pdf

Four Lessons

The seminar presented four key lessons around the implementation of emergent technologies, which were selected from a set of draft briefing information for senior managers that is available from http://ssbr1210.inin.jisc-ssbr.net/briefings-for-consultation/.

The first lesson is around the need for tools and methodologies to bring about institutional change. Most institutions are now effectively using and adopting established methodologies for systems review and design processes. There is no need to re-invent them.

The second lesson is on the complexity of institutions. : Institutional systems are large and complex, making whole-institutional analysis and design a difficult and costly task. Undertaking a focused review within an institutional review framework and set of policies provides a more manageable set of tasks.

The third lesson is on the need for a large project group to  support institutional wide change. Whole scale institutional change may require a large number of relevant people to be included in the systems review and design process from IT Managers and Estates to students and academic departments. The support of senior management is also essential but will not reduce the need to engage a large number of people and also support bottom-up development as well as top-down management.

The final lesson was on exploiting existing technical opportunities. Many successful institutional change projects around technology are a result of the doing the right thing at the right time. Such as identifying the emergence of a new technology within the student population, linking to an existing institutional policy to improve feedback, increase retention, improve systems efficiencies, etc.

Feedback and Comments

New Change Approaches

The feedback recognised that institutions are highly complex and the external environment (political, cultural and technical) is rapidly changing and also influences change for institutions.


The tools and methods used are dependent on the problem being solved, so an important lesson for institutional change is to understand the problem or issue that needs to be addressed. The need for a clear business case for the innovation/change is required. It was suggested that it was difficult to extract general lessons from different projects conducted in institutions of varying complexity and size.

Projects create potential for change beyond themselves even though project is bounded the activity can open up opportunities for change elsewhere from where they set out to make change. These opportunities for change may be useful or a distraction to the issue being addressed, i.e. it may be easier to follow the path of least resistance. Scope creep must be avoided within the project, but we need to recognise how the project and the wider environment are co-evolving over time.

Project Teams

Participants suggested that the size of the team really depended on what you were doing. It was agreed that stakeholders should be involved early in the process. Examples were included improving quality of student feedback enabled by roll-out of cameras and software requiring the support of IT services to get it going (i.e. exploit existing opportunities and use simple tools where possible).

Sustaining change using ‘networks of influence’ vs ‘hierarchical management’ are important aspects. The large project teams developed by some projects may be the result of having to create these networks of influence to achieve change. Institutions present themselves as hierarchies but are actually networks of influence. Change agents recognise and work with the networks of influence.

Engaging senior managers was seen as essential however getting buy-in when managers don’t have the relevant technical or enterprise architectures knowledge/experience can be difficult. It was suggested that this could be helped by doing a SWOT analysis and getting better training for PVCs.

Senior management (SM) support is crucial but this can change over time, they may not be engaged at start but can be engaged once the project has demonstrated (potential) benefits to the organisation or their interest may not be sustained if other institutional priorities emerge.

The skills of a project team may be more important than the size. Not everybody was in a position to be in change management, some team members might have been very focused on technological aspects but not in change management. It was suggested that there are two distinct types of innovation teams, those that work bottom up develop new innovative uses of technology and those responsible for the institutional wide implementation of a new technical system. It was agreed that too often the roll-out of new technologies fails to address the staff development issues.

Institutional Change Process

Some institutions are developing processes for moving innovation from a bottom up innovation into an institutional wide innovation for example institutional early warning process indicators with a strategy working group to decide on what to take forward. However this can lead to a problem of unexpected funding requirements to support and sustain the new technologies and their adoption. Hence someone needs to decide which innovations are adopted, which is back to what is the business case and issue that needs addressing.

The transition from innovation to sustainability was an important aim of the Institutional Innovation programme and there may be key lessons that have not emerged.

A flexible approach is a necessity, as open access and social networking technologies are enabling people to be independent of institutions with less central control as a result. Flexibility of systems design, with more open data and user owned applications was seen as a possible way forward for learning applications in particular. The concept of ‘IT support’ is dying, institutions need to be ‘enablers’ providing services users can utilise. Support will still be necessary management systems at present such as the finance system.

Seminar Presentation and Recording

The seminar can be viewed in Elluminate at Institutional Change: practice, systems and process 3rd  December  
(http://elluminate.jisc-ssbr.net/play_recording.html?recordingId=1250872206854_1291375269759 )  and a copy of the presentation is available for download here http://ssbr1210.inin.jisc-ssbr.net/files/2010/12/Seminar2-Institutional-Change.pdf


1130 – 1200 Log in to Elluminate, post a brief comment about yourself to the chat area
1200 – 1210 Introduction and overview of the synthesis process: Innovation Themes
1210 – 1225 Lessons on institutional change
1225 – 1250 Break out into discussion groups
1250 – 1300 Plenary and closing remarks

Lessons for discussion

1. New change approaches – New Technologies

There are no new approaches to institutional change management? Agree/Disagree

Answer: It may have been just these projects, but they appear to have realised that they need to be more systematic when it comes to implementing joined up systems and processes, hence we are seeing a lot more use of business process review type methodologies, the whole FSD and EA programme is influencing the approach more that we have seen in previous JISC projects. They are seeing an increased importance o f these systems flexible that are responsive to change and system that are student focussed.

2. Small process or whole institution re-design and the use existing tools for review/research or event new ones.

Institutions may now be too large and complex for whole-institution analysis and redesign. Agree/Disagree

Institutional change often involves refining, integrating data systems? A process often called business process review.

Which of the following is essential for process review?

 A. Process review should be an institutionally embedded with specialised tools, people and systems in place to manager and review any change process

 B. Process review can be effectively undertaken on an as required basis, i.e. set up the teams and tools for each individual review or change process

C. Process review is best out sourced to a third party who will do it all for you and tell you what to implement

 D. Other?

Answer: “Institutions may now be too large and complex for whole-institution analysis and redesign.” – there is certainly some truth in this but I am not sure it is  a new lesson.  One project in recommending the embedding of the principles of enterprise architecture in all future developments, the approach was to  progressively create the conditions in which strategic change decisions can be effectively made”.

Gloucestershire drew upon the literature of the methodology of business process change to provide a framework to understand the lifecycle of innovation. By working within this they could predict and handle the difficulties. Critically, it enabled them to make a rational decision between working on a re-design process or attempting a full re-engineering process.”
Business process review, large scale institutional process review is expensive, too much for an institution to handle but maybe necessary for change/innovation to move forward. However the projects produced several examples of where small focussed process review was in itself successful and productive, provided it was implemented with a framework of strategic decision making across the institution – which is what the first project sort of concluded.

3. Large Project Groups/Senior Management Lead

The use of large project teams is required to achieve institutional change.  Agree/Disagree

Answer: Several of these projects have required many parts of the institution to be engaged in the change process, from timetabling, estates, academic registry through to module designers and teaching faculties.

This leads to another lesson: the use of senior management as change agents, and top down meeting bottom up change management process (but this is nothing new).

4. Being responsive to change, seizing the day, getting out of the way

How can institutional IT managers best allow for diversity while assuring security and continuity of service?
A) By providing a single consistent high-quality interface (view) to institutional IT services?
B) By providing a basic “institutional interface” and secure feeds for consumption through other client interfaces?
C) By devolving responsibility for UIs to the periphery and focussing solely on data quality?

D) Other?
Answer: This question is about being more responsive and taking opportunities, engaging users and enabling an internal culture of “shared services” to develop. Is the institution actually a federation of micro-institutions, who share services? Or is the institution a single hierarchy which needs to  provide a single consistent “view” on its IT services for all its “clients” and staff
“A widely-used model of converting innovation into institutional change is to recognise developments which have their own energy, and bring them together in a combination which produces a useful outcome.”
Project examples include Erewhon, Asset, Steeple…picking up on latest technologies and institutional policy. Two key lessons, first to be responsive to what new developments are happening around you, knowing when to “catch the wave” that will allow you to achieve what you want in terms of institutional change. Second lesson illustrated by at least one project was to know when to simply get out of the way, and allow the change to happen, institutions can be more often fighting change that allowing it to happen – good examples are in the use of student owned technologies and social networking

Briefings for consultation

The lessons from the synthesis of the Institutional Innovation programme are being summarised in a series of briefings to inform the JISC.

Please see the following

The briefings are not meant to be comprehensive, limited to capturing only the lessons from the projects in the institutional innovations programme. These lessons may not be applicable to all institutions.

We would welcome any comments or suggestions of additional issues or examples from your own experience.

Please email paul@ssbr-jisc.net or george@ssbr-jisc.net