In previous CMM contributions (HERE andHERE  and we discussed the creation of a strategy and assurance portfolio at the University of Wollongong designed to co-locate enabling functions that support the institution to achieve its core missions of education, research and engagement.

The decision to simplify and rationalise our portfolio structure came at a time when staff were already experiencing significant change fatigue and only 25 per cent believed change was handled well.

It was important to use the creation of this new portfolio to model and test what best practice might look like for managing institutional change. The process incorporated key principles from change-manager PROSCI’s framework and was designed to allow all staff to contribute to feedback, not only those directly impacted by the change.

The initial draft change proposal was shared during an all-staff forum which launched the start of a formal consultation process. The process directed staff to a dedicated intranet site where all information relating to the change proposal was available and included both an anonymous survey and an option for all staff to register for a series of workshops to test the draft proposal and functional changes being proposed.

All feedback was summarised and shared via the site on a weekly basis during the consultation phases. In this particular process, the consultation included two formal phases – the first started in August 2022 and the second ended in November 2022. The process saw over 40 feedback submissions and over 50 staff requests to attend workshops.

The feedback and workshops generated many recommendations that were explored, highlighting gaps, and flagging potential risks – exactly what we were hoping for! The most significant of these recommendations led to the phase two proposal to include the Academic Quality and Standards Division within the newly envisioned Strategy and Assurance portfolio to benefit from co-location with risk and assurance and policy and governance functions.

So on reflection, what did we learn? A great deal! We learnt that for change to be done well at UOW, we need dedicated change resources supporting the change proposals, regardless of the type of change. Change must be a business-as usual approach within higher education to continually adapt to changing student needs, funding and regulatory environments and technological developments.

As a consequence, we have moved to develop change management capability within a dedicated enterprise programme management unit within the new look Strategy Division. The establishment of this function within the university will be a key deliverable of our short-term roadmap strategy, which is intended to enable the institution to achieve our longer-term strategy and vision.

The forthcoming Accord process promises to deliver substantial change to the current Higher Education landscape in Australia and universities will need to be positioned to adapt and prosper.

Sean Brawley is DVC (Strategy and Assurance), Richard Cook is Chief Strategy Officer, and Ellenie Petrou is Associate Director, Strategic Programs and Change at the University of Wollongong


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