On Wednesday 3rd February Martin Taylor, Chair of the APM’s Enabling Change SIG, hosted a webinar with The Open University’s Portfolio Office, which shared the story of the University’s recent efforts to build its change capability.
Along with the rest of the higher education sector, The Open University is going through a period of significant change. There have been major changes to the way universities are run since 2012, with the most significant being the shift in funding from Government to the end users – in this case to students. Moreover, and of particular importance for The Open University, the part-time higher education sector has been in decline across the UK, with the loss of potential economic benefits to businesses and individuals through having a flexible way of developing people's skills.
Jess Annison, Head of the Portfolio Office, provided an overview of the external and internal drivers that are requiring the University to build its ability to adapt and improve. She then set out the key lessons that the University has learnt (or rather, continues to learn and respond to), and illustrated these lessons with an overview of some of the team’s work over the last couple of years. These lessons include the need for tailoring and proportionality (illustrated by the team’s approach to project management methodology and tools); the value of harnessing the collective energy, ideas and knowledge of colleagues across the organisation (as seen through the University’s 500-strong Change Community); and the need to balance ‘top-down’ and ‘bottom-up’ change (a new focus area for the team). For more on the lessons and the examples, please see the link to the webinar. The engaging presentation concluded with Jess’s summary of their progress so far: in summary, they’re making progress but there’s still much to do.
Following the presentation Jess answered several questions from a large number submitted by participants; there wasn’t time to answer them all but The OU team have kindly agreed to post answers for the questions they didn’t get chance to answer. These will be posted on this page when they’re available.
Martin Taylor, Chair of the Enabling Change SIG, thanked Jess and her team for sharing their experiences, and thanked participants for engaging so fully in the webinar. Martin also reminded participants of the SIG’s next events.
Enabling Change Specific Interest Group Chair
Jess Annison has very kindly allowed her material to be made available for viewing.
The slides and webinar recording are available in our APM resources area and also below for reference.