People, process and performance – a model for change in HE?

The Aber-Bangor Strategic Alliance team
The Aber-Bangor Strategic Alliance team
A project to bring the questions of people and performance together with lean methodologies has been developed by the Aber-Bangor Strategic Alliance with funding from the Innovation and Transformation Fund (ITF). The Alliance’s Chris Drew provides the first in a series of posts by the nine ITF-funded projects focused on engaging the higher education workforce in initiating change.

Change in any environment is fraught with difficulty but the current trend toward the use of Lean Thinking has brought significant and demonstrable impact across the public and private sectors.

The careful review and analysis of processes has yielded dividends not only in terms of improving existing processes but also offered a tool for developing new operational initiatives and activities.

However, in focusing on Lean are we neglecting key elements in the change management process?  Change is, after all, delivered by people and the performance of those people is influenced and impacted by a whole variety of factors.

People and performance

Many of us, of course, address questions of people and performance alongside process, albeit in parallel activities. Aberystwyth and Bangor Universities applied to the Innovation and Transformation Fund of the Leadership Foundation to explore a methodology which addresses all of these factors in one model.  

The “P3” project is exploring a methodology known as Human Performance Technology (HPT) to see whether it can be adapted for application in higher education.  The core methodology can be seen as a large and complex model and is built around the themes of People, Process and Performance – hence the project title, P3.  As bilingual universities we were also keen to establish a project name that works in Welsh too and this does the job perfectly, Pobl, Proses a Pherfformiad.

In this project, the teams are seeking to adopt the key elements of the methodology to bring questions of people and performance in harness with lean methodologies, whilst developing a simplified model scaled to the needs of higher education in the UK.

Simplified model

This simplified model is being piloted and refined through a project in the Library service teams in both Aberystwyth and Bangor Universities.  That project is introducing new software, policies and protocols around the development and maintenance of reading lists.  Under the alliance between the two universities, we are able to address the additional dynamic of working across two HEIs, another parameter against which to test the refined methodology.

So is it working?  With more teams in the universities interested in deploying the methodology, this project has caught people’s attention and will almost certainly provide another tool in the change toolkit.  We’re evaluating progress and will update you in a future post.

Look out for Chris’ next blogpost and a report disseminating the full findings of the project in October.

Chris Drew is the deputy head of the Aber-Bangor Strategic Alliance, a partnership between Aberystwyth and Bangor universities aiming to harness opportunity and develop collaborative opportunities of mutual benefit delivering enhanced effectiveness and capacity across the two institutions.

The Innovation and Transformation Fund (ITF), supported by the Leadership Foundation and Hefce, stimulates projects to unlock and share good practice in order to advance efficiency and transformation across the higher education sector. The nine projects for 2014, focusing on engaging the higher education workforce in process review, performance and career management and development, are nearing completion and will be shared over the next few months.