It’s Not What You Know…

Follow-up to Trombinoscope Update from Casey’s Blog

It’s Who You Know…

As part of tomorrow’s Warwick Network day Justine Pedler and I are running a session on the frustrations of trying to find the right person to get a job done.

Finding the Right Person
Trying to find an answer to a question? Often the easiest thing to do
is pick up the phone or send an email and ask. Or is it? How many times
have you ended up contacting seven or more people and getting passed
from one to the other? How many times have you found the telephone
directory or email search to be out of date? Find out about the
possible solutions to this irritating problem.

Yes – it’s a blatent Trombinoscope plug!

  1. Introduce yourselves to the group: Name, Position (and what that means) and Department (2 minutes)
  2. Take a few minutes to think about today’s session and come up with your most irritating examples (3 minutes)
  3. Share your example with the Group (5 minutes)
  4. Exercise 1: Brainstorming – What would help prevent/ solve these problems? (10 minutes plus 5 minutes feeding back)
  5. Exercise 2: In two groups develop ones of these ideas and think about how it might be realised. (10 minutes plus 5 minutes feedback.)
  6. Explanation
    of Staff Directory Plans – what do people think? Which database fields
    would be essential/useful/nice-to-have/pointless? What do people think
    about privacy/ photos etc.? (10 minutes)

Useful Links

About the Warwick Network

The purpose of this day is to give us all a chance
to think through the issues facing the University administration over
the next academic year. Too often we all concentrate on the precise
remit of our roles without thinking about how those roles fit together
and the key focus of the administration – supporting students and

A range of workshop sessions has been devised to
cover the full range of topics that we are involved in and guest
speakers will deliver presentations on university management and
encouraging creativity.

All of you will have heard of “The Warwick Way” –
an amorphous and uncodified concept that involves creativity and an
entrepreneurial way of doing things at Warwick. We want to refresh that
concept and reintroduce and reapply it to everything that each of us
does at the University.

3 Responses to “It’s Not What You Know…”
  1. David Wraith says:

    really like the tromboniscope idea and we had a similar thing in Royal
    Mail called the Employee Communications Directory, which was updated
    weekly (in terms of joiners and leavers) with a download from the HR
    system. This kept the people on it up to date. It was then up to an
    individual to update their own details. It took quite a while for
    people to do this, but they eventually caught on once everyone realised
    how useful it was and therefore they had to play their part to keep it
    that way. There was also a button to ‘update your own record’ which you
    could do quickly and easily.

    If you manage to update from
    the HR system then the information will be more up to date and you’d
    also be able to include manual staff without PC access – even if you
    don’t have many contact details for them at least they’d be included.

    It takes some perserverance to get everyone using it and updating it but it’s definitely worth it.

  2. Jeremy says:

    hate to say this.. because it is a case of web-blindness and that is so
    difficult to argue against, . but communication is almost all that the
    management process is about, and it is a mistake to hive off the
    communication aspects of management to IT.

    Currently we seem to wait for a problem to get to critical and then propose a web-solution (i.e. a passive solution)

    What should happen instead, is that managers (admnistrators) should
    be aware of all the departments and functions that are affected by
    changes they might make, and ensure that these changes are communicated
    to those people that are likely to be affected. You can do this with
    IT, but only if you know the problem is there, If the problem we are
    solving with this trombone thing is that managers (administrators)
    don’t communicate changes to dependent functions (perhaps because they
    leave the dependent functions out of the thinking process??) , then why
    are they more likely to inform a third party (i.e.the website?)

    Some departments I interact have changed their e-mail and phone numbers BUT DON’T NOTIFY
    the dependent functions who interact almost daily! How crazy is this!
    …they then they complain that I ‘should know!’ but don’t make any
    effort to pass the information on, unless I ‘make a mistake’ i.e. find
    out that a change has been made by trial and error.

    With the new IT database thing, I can see the same things happening. If people leading functions don’t already make sure people are notified, then why are they more likely to ensure that each person changes their own page?

    Say for example a function changes – I find through trial and error
    (as now) that there is a problem with the old address, I search for the
    person involved – perhaps find out that the personal info has changed
    by that person on their entry, but no link has been made to the new

    I look up another person in the team to find that they have changed
    their entry for their number and e-mail, but not the hunting group
    number, then I contact that second person and ask what the changes
    overall are, then call the original person who tells me they will send
    me the new contact.. and I get a link to the new person’s page which
    hasn’t quite been updated yet.

    Something tells me that this ‘new’ method is too close to the old method!

    Instead of transferring the problem to the web, so that people blame
    the web, not a person, there should instead be a recognition and
    adoption of (gulp) simple good management practice. i.e. when changes
    are made, all the people those changes are likely to impact upon are
    properly briefed! Managers of functions should easily be able to draw
    up a list (hmm) because surely every function is aware of its internal
    and external customers… isn’t it??

  3. Self help says:

    Very good post on communication, thank you for the posting.

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