Organizational Ethnography: An Experiential & Practical Guide

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Jenna Pandeli, Hugo Gaggiotti and Neil Sutherland are over the moon to announce that their edited book ‘Organizational Ethnography: An Experiential and Practical Guide‘ will be available from 18th February this year! The book gives a first-hand insight into ‘doing’ ethnography, providing a toolkit that prepares ethnographers for the uncertainties and realities of fieldworking. They include chapters on different types of ethnographies, as well as analysis, all while reflecting on their experiences and practice. 

They wanted to provide a range of voices from people at different stages of their ethnographic journey so the book includes chapters from PhD students just starting out with ethnography where their experiences are raw and new, as well as seasoned ethnographers who are able to draw on a wide range of ethnographic experience. This has been a real labour of love for them all and they are delighted that ethnography is clearly such a hit in the Faculty of Business and Law as two of the chapters are authored by fantastic UWE colleagues, Sarah-Louise Weller and Chloe Tarrabain.

They are really proud of this book and its transparent approach to talking about research methods and they have received some lovely reviews from John Van Maanen, Paul Atkinson and Sudhir Venkatesh.

Organizational Ethnography sets a new standard for scholarly reflection and theoretical inquiry. The editors have assembled a smart and engaging set of essays on ethnographic methods in diverse organizational contexts. Readers will find traditional topics assessed with a fresh lens, as well as some issues – exiting the field, studying sensitive issues – that have received far less attention than they deserve. For newcomers to the craft as well as seasoned practitioners, this volume on “hanging out” in organizations is a must read.’
Sudhir Venkatesh, Columbia University, USA

‘This is a carefully edited collection of fresh and lively accounts of various phases and stages of ethnographic research in contemporary organizational settings – from planning a study, to carrying it out, to exiting the field, to writing it up. Central to each of the selections are the troubles a particular ethnographic stance presents to the researcher – many unseen at the outset of a study – and the disparate ways researchers have come up with in dealing with these vexing difficulties. These are personalized stories about the practical doing of ethnography – tales that are typically elided from the rather condensed and sanitized renderings of how a given study was accomplished that appear in print. That canonical ethnographic means and ends are necessarily strained and stretched in the flickering, messy, chaotic, emotionally laden and initially unknown surroundings and circumstances that a study seeks to tame is a reoccurring theme in these accounts. This is a work that will appeal to seasoned as well as novice researchers interested how the ethnographers of various backgrounds have dealt with the inherent uncertainties of their trade.’
John Van MaanenEmeritus Professor, MIT (Work and Organization Studies Group), USA

‘Ethnographic research is flourishing in a wide variety of social settings, and in an equally diverse range of disciplines. With a broad understanding of organisational ethnography, this collection of essays amply displays all that variety. It also captures the remarkable range of approaches – methodological and personal – that characterise contemporary field research. The contributing authors are frank in acknowledging the personal, ethical and intellectual challenges of ethnographic fieldwork, but they also convey the immense satisfaction to be gained from such research. They offer a close look under the bonnet, to see some of the things that lie behind published ethnographic research. Readers will be engaged, informed and confronted by the essays in this collection. It will be an invaluable resource for students and more experienced ethnographers alike.’
Paul AtkinsonEmeritus Professor, Cardiff University, UK

The Unleadership Movement: Catching the Wave – Being alert to the possibility of NOW!

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The Unleadership Movement is a growing collaboration of practitioners and scholars from public, private and voluntary sectors. The movement seeks to reflect upon leaderly practices that have been illuminated during the Covid-19 pandemic. Its mission is to establish how this learning can be taken forward by participants to make an impact in their organisations and communities. In this month’s blog we focus on catching the wave – exploring how unleaders use their intuition to take action in a timely manner to make change. 

As we are writing in January, let’s mention New Year’s Resolutions! Whether you are a firm believer or whether you resist making pledges that may be broken, you will all have a sense of the time being fundamentally right – or wrong. You might describe this as “gut feeling” or “sixth sense” or perhaps it’s just beyond description.  

Traditional approaches to leadership advocate a more planned approach to decision making; taking action based on deductive or inductive processes. Using general established and accepted “facts” to deduce a conclusion for a particular scenario or noticing specifics of a situation and collecting enough data to generalise and induce a solution based on the evidence.  These approaches to using top-down theorising, collecting evidence and making rational decisions are what is generally expected of heroic leaders. They plan, assess and review in order to align resources and direct followers to take action based on rationality and logic. During the pandemic leaders took control in exceptional circumstances and created grand plans to execute solutions to the PPE supply challenges, infection control and community support.   

But as plans were created and data was gathered, others were taking small scale actions to make a difference. Fashion designers were banding together to make scrubs, teenagers were printing 3D masks, restaurants were using waste food to feed those in need. Action was being taken in a timely manner without data, evidence or strategies. These actions seem to have been guided by an innate desire to act, driven by values where a need was sensed. Unleaders were using “gut feel” or abductive reasoning –  probably most akin to informed guessing in practical terms – which was described by Charles Sanders Pierce in 1929 as “This singular guessing instinct”.  Our most famous example of an abductionist in literature is the detective Sherlock Holmes.  

So how can we use abduction in the workplace to take timely action? What stops us? In our workshops barriers were discussed such as risk averse cultures, a preference for logical reasoning and a lack of recognition that there is value in a mix of decision-making styles.  How could we enable ourselves to use abductive reasoning more in our workplaces? By not waiting for permission to be given, but to act, making space to reflect on ways of taking action, listening to others’ opinions, by seeing value created in different ways, and being clear on what adds value to our purpose. Through these experiments, it was felt that there could be potential for more information sharing, more proactivity, more problem solving and perhaps more communication in decision making. We also reflected on finding the right time was to use this approach; through being clear around risks, where we can add value and our own skills and experience. The group considered how different types of reasoning can complement each other and facilitate timely action being taken.

We decided that we could give ourselves permission to:

Give ourselves freedom to make decisions with incomplete information.

Reflect before acting – be creative.

Be prepared to fail and learn.

Focus on our purpose and intention.

Say no – to disrupt, make mischief and play.

Look at new opportunities.

Thinking about the worst-case scenario.

Deferring to hegemonic leadership styles.

Not ask permission.

Think outside of the box and be brave.

Focus on the bright spots.

Bring people together.

Delight in ideas. Develop ourselves.

So next time you have a decision to make, what will you do? Will you reflect on how you might take more timely action? Can you catch the wave? Share your thoughts with us!

Carol, Kay, Selen and Hugo @The Unleadership Movement

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/9053832/

Twitter: @Unleadership_

Routledge Focus on Team Academy – 4 Book Series

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This blog post is written by Berrbizne Urzelai

Why This Book Series, and Why Now?

The idea of publishing a Team Academy (TA) book for me started back in 2017 when I began working in the UK, because I could see that there were many differences between how TA was run in Mondragon (Basque Country) and at UWE (UK). In November that year, I met with an editor from Routledge and shared some of my ideas which he became excited about. However, it was not until March 2018 that I really started to put some ideas together for the project. I was already in touch with Elinor Vettraino, co-editor of this series, at that time as we were working on several cross-university projects and I remember a conversation I had with her over dinner in Finland in January 2018 (Timmiakatemia’s 25th Anniversary). Essentially, we were discussing why it was that not many people knew about TA even within our institutions. How could it be possible that we were not using the amazing global network more effectively?

In June 2018, the Team Academy UK community had their annual meeting event – the TAUK Gathering. During this connection, a number of team coaches met and reflected together about how research could actually inform our team coaching practice, programme design, pedagogical thinking, etc. We were keen to organise a Team Learning Conference where we could invite people from TA but also other EE practitioners and academics to present their work and share their knowledge. At this point, we realised that we had an opportunity to pool our interests together and publish a book for dissemination as well as organise a conference to share knowledge and practice.

I was about to go on maternity leave so I thought… this is the moment! I need to do something during this time, so let’s work on the book proposal. I created a call for chapters and started reaching out to people from the network to invite them to send us an abstract. The response was great and we ended up working on a proposal that had too many chapters so Routledge suggested a book series instead. We didn’t want to leave people out of this so we thought let’s do it!

The rest, as they say, is history!

What is it about?

The series includes more than 35 chapters from contributors all over the world (Spain, UK, Finland, France, Tanzania, Brazil, Argentina, Japan, Switzerland, etc.). The aim of the series is to compile the different research, experiences, and stories about the Team Academy phenomenon throughout its worldwide network.

Book 1, Team Academy and Entrepreneurship Education examines the place and purpose of the TA model in entrepreneurship education, and indicates how and why the model has grown in popularity and interest over the last 3 decades.

Book 2, Team Academy in Practice focuses on different contexts and learning environments in which TA pedagogical and cultural practices coalesce, through the stories, experiences and research of those engaged in the practice.

Book 3, Team Academy: Leadership and Teams, investigates topics such as the ways in which learners on programmes based on this learning-by-doing model attempt to navigate the complexity of leadership and team dynamics, whilst understanding their place and impact on the processes involved.

Book 4, Team Academy in Diverse Settings offers the readers critical considerations on how TA has inspired different settings and how it has been implemented in different contexts (disciplines, industries, non-HE settings, etc.) and cultures, creating a legacy by those who have engaged with the process.

More information HERE

Contact: Berrbizne2.urzelai@uwe.ac.uk

Averting Climate Catastrophe: Where next after COP26?

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Richard Bolden and Charlotte von Bulow, December 2021

With over forty thousand registered delegates from almost 200 countries the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), held in Glasgow from 31 October to 12 November 2021, was the largest yet. Amongst those in attendance were 120 heads of state and despite scepticism about the likelihood of securing a meaningful agreement a last-minute deal was struck that calls for “the phasedown of unabated coal power and phase-out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies”(1). Nevertheless, it is widely acknowledged that we are currently on track to significantly exceed the 1.5oC threshold, beyond which global warming is likely to produce catastrophic outcomes across much of the world, including sea level rises, extreme weather and the destruction of habitats and ecosystems.

Bristol Leadership and Change Centre has hosted two online seminars to consider the opportunities and challenges for/of COP26 and the implications for leadership, collaboration and care in the face of climate change more widely. In the first event, held five days before the start of the summit, Charlene Collison and Professor Jonathan Gosling shared their thoughts on key issues and questions that would need to be addressed during COP26 in order to achieve a successful outcome. A blog post outlining this discussion has already been posted. In this current blog we outline discussions at the second seminar, hosted on 8th December.  

The event began with a conversation between Jonathan Gosling and Steve Martineau, a member of the team appointed by the UK High-Level Climate Action Champion for COP26 Nigel Topping. Steve began by discussing the background to this work and the role of the Climate Action Champions in representing the voices of business and other communities in the discussions. He illustrated this by characterising the national governments as vertical systems, with business, finance, etc. as horizontal systems that intersect these at a global level.

“The Paris Agreement is fundamentally an agreement between national governments, and if we think of each of those national governments as a vertical in the global system, we’re there really to represent the horizontal systems that run across those – so it’s not just business but can be civil society to some extent, it can be education systems, it can be finance systems – so all those horizontal systems that represent different parts of society and the economy that need to transform at the global level … those voices need to be heard loud enough for it to be effective.”

Steve stressed the importance of engaging these groups in both shaping and implementing the transformations required to tackle global warming, citing a number of examples of where businesses were actively driving change in their respective sectors. In such cases, sometimes as a result of demand from customers as well as the need to recruit and retain staff, sustainability is directly linked to business performance and success. Steve mentioned the ‘ambition loop’ whereby, rather than simply responding to government regulation and legislation, business and organisations are demanding positive change from their governments to level the playing field and to disincentivise unsustainable business practices.

The conversation concluded with Jonathan asking Steve about the role of political activists and protest groups during the COP26 talks.

“I think those voices are more important than ever… It’s really important that the widest possible community of individuals communicate their appetite for change… to give confidence to elected politicians… and for CEOs of companies to know that this is what their staff want… Nigel Topping was keen to say that those voices of protest in Glasgow were a very important part of the mix because the decision makers need to be repeatedly reminded that an awful lot of people out there want to see the change happen.”

Following this discussion, Charlene Collison shifted our attention to the impacts of climate change on local communities and individuals around the world. She did this by highlighting that even with the agreements at COP26 we are on track for a 2.5oC increase in global temperatures – well beyond that experienced through human history. To illustrate the challenges this will cause, Charlene presented findings from the Cotton 2040  project she has been leading for Forum for the Future. The cotton sector employs around 350 million people in farming and production alone and is a truly global industry. As such, it provides important insights into the effects of climate change for agriculture, employment and business models more widely.

Charlene began by showing the Climate Risk Explorer Tool developed for this project that highlights a range of climate hazards facing the Cotton Industry, including reduced growing season, heat stress, drought, rainfall, flooding, wildfire and landslides. This is a sobering assessment of the scale of the challenges – where a significant proportion of the world’s population will experience climactic conditions that are adverse not just to growing cotton but to pretty much all aspects of human life.

Charlene encouraged us to consider what this data means at a human level – to the people trying to live, work and support their families in such harsh conditions. The disruption caused by such changes will affect supply chains globally, although the impacts will disproportionately affect the most vulnerable, with farmers and producers most exposed to the risks. Whilst the physical and economic impacts are not to be understated, the mental and emotional toll will be particularly significant for those on the frontline of climate change.

Over the past few months Charlene and colleagues have been running roundtable events with a range of stakeholders, encouraging people to ‘step into that world’ and genuinely reflect on the issues and what they mean for both those involved directly in the cotton industry and the population more generally. Summarising key insights Charlene said:

  • We need to prepare for disruption – and facilitate a just transition.
  • It’s hard for people – including leaders – to imagine this systemic level of disruption and change. We are learning to have the conversation.
  • It will only be possible to meet these challenges by transformation in the economy, business models, practices, and above all, mindsets.

Following these thought-provoking contributions delegates were allocated to breakout groups to discuss the points raised and share examples of what they and others are doing to address these issues. Feedback was shared in a plenary discussion, with examples of local-level action including the establishment of the Bristol River Avon Bioregion Group, and the work of campaign groups such as Extinction Rebellion and Fridays for the Future. In the latter cases, however, it was noted that proposed changes through the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, currently submitted to the House of Lords for approval, would greatly reduce the capacity for social activism on climate change as well as other issues.

Overall, this event highlighted the need for local action to complement national/international events such as COP if we are to have any chance of minimising the impacts of climate change. Whilst COP26 was neither a great success nor a total failure it did mark the first time that there was a serious attempt to secure agreement around eliminating our dependence on fossil fuels (despite the fact that the oil and gas industry sent the largest delegation to Glasgow). More importantly, perhaps, it highlighted the strength of feeling amongst the wider population – particularly younger generations – that it really is time to move from talk to action on climate change and the need to address associated inequalities.

If you missed the event you can watch the full recording in two parts below.

The Unleadership Movement: Living with the Unknown – Giving Ourselves Permission to Act Anyway

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The Unleadership Movement is a growing collaboration of practitioners and scholars from public, private and voluntary sectors. The movement seeks to reflect upon leaderly practices that have been illuminated during the Covid-19 pandemic. Its mission is to establish how this learning can be taken forward by participants to make an impact in their organisations and communities. In this month’s blog we focus on living with the unknown and exploring the creative potential of imperfection.

Under traditional leadership understanding, it is taken for granted that leaders must always seek perfection. In order to achieve this, leaders must always be in control. They must be bold and dedicated to creating strategies where grand plans are enacted by willing and engaged followers. However, leaderly acts, particularly during the Covid pandemic have revealed that this quest for leadership control in pursuit of perfection can have unintended consequences. Whilst formal leaders sought to create complicated plans to deliver PPE or to craft testing strategies based on evidence, they continued to be almost paralysed in their quest to make and execute the always perfect leadership plan. Their quest proved to be illusionary and unrealisable; and resulted in costly delays and hindered timely action.

Meanwhile, another type of leaderly practice was emerging. Communities, organisations and individuals picked up the mantle during this impasse and took spontaneous action to make a difference. Volunteers printed 3D plastic visor parts; chefs prepared food in their home kitchens for vulnerable people; organisations mobilised individuals to assist with the making of scrubs. These “unleaders” had no clear vision of their destination point but were driven by a clear purpose. They courageously acted into the unknown without securing ‘perfect’ knowledge and certainty. They admitted to unknowing and their actions evolved as they celebrated success and learned from failure. They did not seek to become the epitome of “leadership”. They did not seek to command and control events. They simply acted by paying attention to what was needed in the moment.

This does not underestimate the complexity of the problems and challenges that were faced, and are still faced in organisational life. Instead, we’ve been reflecting on how we can free ourselves of the quest for leadership perfection and operate by delivering “good enough” solutions. The last thing a complex problem needs is a complicated solution, which is only likely to increase the uncertainty! Instead, by empowering ourselves to be “imperfect”, we can move forward and take timely action, adapting our actions according to the response they receive. We’ve explored a number of different activities in workshops with our collaborators and will share two possibilities here that can be used as inspiration to embrace imperfection. Use individually as a personal reflection or discuss with trusted colleagues.

The first activity is to consider the leaderly challenges we face against Ralph Stacey’s (1996) agreement and uncertainty matrix to reflect on our actions and responses.

Uncertain situations can make us feel unsafe and anxious and our natural instinct is to try and make ourselves feel safer by creating a sense of certainty. But this is really an illusion. An alternative might be to try to make uncertainty itself feel safer – perhaps by reflecting upon our responses and understanding of it. If we can achieve this, we are able to pay attention differently and potentially learn more.  Using the outline above we discussed different aspects of uncertainty and agreement in the real-life challenges faced by our workshop collaborators.

Positions of perceived high agreement and high certainty can lead to simplistic or technical conversations that sometimes get stuck by repeating the same loop – an example was discussed such as “we simply do not have enough resources to deliver this”. Other situations discussed drifted further away from absolute certainty where some form of surface harmony existed but wasn’t explored too deeply – such as managing multiple stakeholders’ expectations during a service delivery change programme.  Moving further away from agreement things can also get political – such as individuals waiting to act or refusing to take action in certain scenarios. If we end up rather too far away from agreement and certainty we may also end up in a chaotic situation where we are tempted to put our heads in the sand.  These places will be different for all for us depending on how we feel and who we are but if we reflect upon each challenge we face, we may be able to see a different perspective which will allow us to take different action.

A place where creativity and change can really happen is the sweet spot between agreement and certainty. If we can operate within this bounded instability, we can pay attention to the complexity we face – we can navigate changing policies, manage different stakeholders and find our sense of place to take leaderly action – acknowledging and accepting imperfections. We can only simplify so far in complex situations, inevitably there will be contradiction, dynamism and iteration. We need to carefully pay attention to context and allow ourselves to be spontaneous, not introducing more complication but embracing the complexity and going with the flow. Through reflection and discussion of the leaderly challenges we faced, we were able to gain a greater confidence and understanding of how we could take action differently.  

The second activity involves challenging ourselves to be creative! We used erasure poetry to help our collaborators feel more confident about being creative and embracing the idea of imperfection. Each person used a text to delete and add their own words to create a poem about the challenges of imperfection in leaderly practices. This was an opportunity to retell the challenge in a more constructive or reflective way. We used a text written about the Japanese aesthetic of Wabi Sabi  – an approach to life which is based on accepting imperfection and embracing the beauty of the impermanence and incompleteness of life. We picked this text because we thought it offered a refreshing contrast to mainstream leadership rhetoric where there is more of an obsession with creating perfection, and being the perfect, heroic leader. Any text would work equally well. Some very creative results emerged! Here’s one for inspiration

The beauty of this activity was the variety of poems produced, all unique, thoughtful and individual creations. All embracing the idea of imperfection and beautifully imperfect in their own ways!

As English (2016: 8) puts it, “imperfection of experience is what makes it so valuable.” Let us know about how these activities helped you to embrace imperfection, or others you’ve tried. We can all give ourselves permission to embrace imperfection in our leaderly practices so that we feel able to act into the unknown. You are all warmly invited to join our movement and contribute to the conversation!

Join us next month for some thoughts on Catching the Wave – how do we know when to take action?

Kay Galpin, Hugo Gaggiotti, Carol Jarvis & Selen Kars-Unluoglu

LinkedIn: The Unleadership Movement

Twitter: @unleadership_

References:

English, P. (2016) Imperfection: Embracing Wabi-Sabi. Liminalities: A Journal of Performance Studies 12(4): 1-9.

Stacey, R.D. (1996) Strategic Management & Organisational Dynamics. 2nd ed. London: Pitman.

The Unleadership Movement: Lighting fires at the Collective Leadership for Scotland Campfires Festival

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The Unleadership Movement is a growing collaboration of practitioners and scholars from public, private and voluntary sectors who seek to reflect upon leaderly practices that have been illuminated during the Covid-19 pandemic. Its mission is to establish how this learning can be taken forward by participants to make a leaderly impact in their organisations and communities.

By understanding and disrupting traditional leadership expectations, for example that heroic leaders must always act with well-reasoned and well-crafted visions and plans to achieve a state of perfection, the concept of unleadership reveals unexplored alternatives. For example, the practice of unleadership places a focus on those who would not normally regard themselves as leaders. These are individuals who are driven to act by their values and determination to make the best contribution that they can with the resources at their disposal and through a latent desire to pay it forward. This energy drives them to act without securing “perfect” knowledge and certainty, with the courage to act into the unknown and to admit to unknowing. They confidently connect and collaborate with others in a spirit of generosity and compassion, and they are not intimidated by the prospects of having to pass responsibility to better placed others when they reach the limit of their resources.  Stories of these acts of unleadership have emerged during the Covid-19 pandemic and have potentially profound implications for the practices of leadership as our new post-Covid working world develops and re-organises itself.

In this spirit, we recently hosted a discussion at the “Leadership Campfires” event organised by Collective Leadership for Scotland. Aiming to recreate the cozy, comfortable feeling of sitting around the campfire for some inspiring storytelling and conversation, we set up our virtual campfire and invited collaborators from around the globe to come and join us. 

Storytelling seemed a natural partner to the idea of a campfire, and one that evokes further the ability to share experiences and ideas through conversations. So, having introduced our ideas about unleadership through an informal conversation between ourselves, we then invited others to tell their stories, first in smaller breakout groups before sharing with the wider group. Whilst their stories were very different in shape and style, they revealed common aspects of experiences of the last eighteen months, and shared common threads about human endeavours, and unleaderly behaviours in such a range of different circumstances. We were enthralled by what we heard and spent time afterwards reflecting on the stories that resonated for us.

The parable of the crab describing how a lonely crab felt isolated on his own sandy beach and wanted to explore further. It was only by finding the strength within himself to explore beyond his boundaries that he then encountered another lone travelling crab and together they found joint empowerment to move beyond where they could have even considered possible, to explore new terrain.”

“The story of a musician who stepped outside of their famous role to inspire groups of non- governmental organisations to co-operate to provide aid to those who needed it most during hardships after natural disasters.”

“The story of a growing sense of place, where the community began to feel a different kind of ownership and value about their local environment and the benefits to everyone of making small changes.

These stories suggested that leaderly practices and the idea of unleadership was something that also comes from within, be that values held dearly, or inner confidence, as well as a reaction to the place we find ourselves in. They revealed that we can embrace the multi-faceted nature of our own identities and use them in different ways to inspire or take leaderly action. And they highlighted that in pushing beyond our real or imagined boundaries, even small acts can make a big difference.

The Collective Leadership for Scotland event was inspiring and ignited lots of little campfires discussing the potential for leadership to be more collective, social and democratic and to consider our own parts in this developing process. We’ve also been lucky enough to run a series of workshop conversations over the last few months prior to this event, funded through a Higher Education Innovation Fund Grant from UWE Bristol. The purpose of these workshops has been to share, develop and disseminate knowledge about the idea of unleadership and to invite others to join the conversation. With that in mind, this is the first in a series of short blogs which will discuss in more detail some of the key ideas involved in practicing unleadership. These will discuss the themes of paying it forward; living with the unknown; catching the wave; and confident connecting and collaborating.

You are all warmly invited to join our movement and contribute to the conversation!

Carol Jarvis, Hugo Gaggiotti, Selen Kars-Unluoglu  & Kay Galpin

LinkedIn: The Unleadership Movement

Twitter: @unleadership_

HIV healthcare staff in Zimbabwe begin PG Certificate in Professional Practice in Change Leadership

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Dr Greyling Viljoen and Dr Prisciplla Matuare (Women’s University in Africa), supported remotely by Professor Peter Case, recently delivered a two-day face-to-face training workshop (18-19 August 2021) for nineteen Zimbabwe healthcare professionals enrolled on the FBL Postgraduate Certificate in Professional Practice in Change Leadership (PPCL). The students are also working as part of a Bill & Melinda Gates funded project co-led by Peter to restructure and improve HIV/AIDS prevention in Zimbabwe. The PPCL module is designed to enable students to combine their studies with experiential workplace learning.  

The PPCL programme forms an integral part of a project entitled ‘Optimizing Stakeholder Operating Models for HIV Prevention in Zimbabwe’ – OPTIMISE, for short. The project, which has been running since June 2020 and is due to conclude in May 2022, addresses health HIV service delivery in Manicaland, Matabeleland North and Matabelend South provinces. The aim is to support and capacitate the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) in working with stakeholders to develop and implement sustainability plans. This involves reviewing progress on the MoHCC strategy and facilitating the process of establishing goals, priorities and action plans. It also strives to create the necessary leadership coalition to drive change in the health service.

There is a diverse cohort of students on the PPCL module representing different levels with the system: from senior MoHCC directors through to front line staff working in health facilities. Students undertake theoretical studies supported by materials on Blackboard and are trained in the application of the project’s LEAD methodology. There is also a significant ‘supervised practice’ element of the course whereby students are supported in applying their learning.  

Thanks go to Katie Joyce (module leader) and UWE’s Faculty of Business and Law Professional Development Team for their excellent support in delivering the PPCL module.   The main collaborating partners for this work are the Malaria Elimination Initiative (University of California, San Francisco) Population Services International and the Clinton Health Access Initiative.

Desperately Seeking ‘Self-ish’ space: the year of Covid-19, lockdown and making dens

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The following excerpts are taken from an article written by Harriet Shortt for Organizational Aesthetics, the full article can be read here.

As I look back on the events of last year, like so many people, my reflections turn to how our home has been central to all that we have done and all that we have experienced. And like so many others during lockdown, our dining room became a classroom, the kitchen table became a meeting space, and the living room became a gym. All this meant our homes became ‘contested spaces’ (Lefebvre, 1991) and as I recently wrote in a book chapter with my co-author Michal Izak, we have suddenly found ourselves in a space with multiple meanings and uses (Shortt and Izak, 2020). We have appropriated and re-appropriated rooms across the landscape of our domestic spaces and perhaps most predominately, the boundaries between work and home have been well and truly broken and re-established.

As a result of these broken and now very blurry boundaries between work and home, the once private, intimate space of the home has been made (partly) public. Our domestic spaces are more visible now and throughout the pandemic they have been shared with and open to a whole host of people that might not have otherwise been ‘invited in’. For lots of us this has included the ongoing avalanche of Teams work calls, the home-schooling video calls, the Zoom quizzes, Facetime with family, Pilates on WhatsApp, and webinars hosted
from the garden shed.

For me, these complexities associated with the socio-material experiences of space at home during lockdown, and how we have responded to them, were first starkly highlighted by my 5-year-old daughter, Lauren. Throughout this year Lauren has been den-making. I know this is not unusual for a child of her age, and according to Sobel (2002), den-making is a fundamental part of early and middle childhood when children create a hiding space, ‘homeaway-from-home’, removed from parents or siblings. But during lockdown the den-making was, and continues to be, prolific.

Lauren’s abundant den making, was perhaps, her response to sharing her home with us for an extended period – all of us together, all the time, in a limited number of rooms and where those rooms had become somewhat ambiguous in their use.

This made me wonder if other people might be experiencing the same thing. Lots of other local parent friends reported the same sort of behaviour, as did a number of ‘grown ups’. An entrepreneur I have been working with told me she had been frequenting the roof of her house for a bit of solitude – taking a cup of tea up to the roof to find a private moment of respite from the rest of her family. An academic colleague of mine had bought a flatpack shed for the garden as a workspace away from the three other family members all working round the kitchen table – she affectionately calls her shed ‘the den’ and has made her curtains for it.

Even though so many of us are desperate to leave our houses and socialise again, I am left wondering if Covid-19 and our experiences of lockdown will change the way we look at our homes. Post-pandemic life might involve putting the home under the microscope and thinking about the details of our homes, as Bachelard encourages us to do. What corners have we noticed? What temporary nests have provided a new place of refuge? What new patterns of spatial practice have formed and where? Home space rules are being rewritten, new agreements are being made, home and work boundaries are being reimagined. Perhaps after this year, we might be more reflective about our attachments to
chosen spots in the home and where precisely we find shelter.

Read Harriet’s full article HERE

Multidisciplinary Research Teams and Transdisciplinary Impacts

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In September Peter Case, Professor of Organization Studies at UWE Bristol delivered a webinar for staff and doctoral students at the College of Business, Law & Governance – James Cook University in Australia. Here is a summary of his presentation, talking about multidisciplinary research teams and transdisciplinary impacts.

Researchers increasingly find themselves inhabiting a world in which sponsors demand that their work generate outcomes and impacts beyond the walls of academia. There is an expectation that applied research will yield beneficial changes to one or more of the following areas of life: economy, society, culture, public policy, the environment, health and wellbeing. Moreover, many of the problems that researchers face are extremely complex, if not ‘wicked’ (Rittel & Webber, 1973) in nature.

The challenges of tackling problems caused by climate change or trying to achieve sustainable development, for example, typically involve multiple stakeholder interests and are mediated by an array of interrelated socio-material factors.  Accommodating such high levels of complexity is an endeavour that, arguably, falls beyond the scope and capacity of any single disciplinary frame.

One response to challenges posed by complexity is to employ multidsiciplinary research teams. These teams typically comprise a diverse set of experts who bring particular specialist perspectives, theories and methodologies to bear on a given problem. Multidisciplinary teams thus afford a more holistic approach to the issue at hand and, moreover, hold the prospect of producing ‘joined up’ solutions to any given problem.

Peter Case recently gave a talk on this, sharing some of his experiences of working with mutlidisciplinary research teams in the context of complex problems and large scale projects. He spoke about drawing on his work in international development and global healthcare spaces to explore what is involved in forming teams, managing group dynamics and harnessing collective efforts to meet overall project aims and objectives.

Peter concluded by arguing that enhancing research impact entails moving beyong a strictly multidisciplinary approach to a transdisciplinary mode of stakeholder engagement; one in which academic researchers facilitate and contribute to wider dialogue with partner institutions and intended beneficiaries.

The Rhetoric and Reality of Systems Leadership

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A talk by Professor Richard Bolden at The Future of Leadership conference hosted by Kings College, London.

Professor Richard Bolden was invited by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (an executive agency of the Ministry of Defence) to speak at a video conference on ‘The Future of Leadership’, hosted by Kings College London on 22nd May. His presentation, titled ‘The Rhetoric and Reality of Systems Leadership’ summarised insights from his recent research in the NHS and public health to highlight key insights for public service leadership over the coming decades.

What is Systems Leadership?

“Systems Leadership is about how you lead across boundaries departmental, organisational or sector. It’s how you lead when you’re not in charge, and you need to influence others rather than pull a management lever. It describes the way you need to work when you face large, complex, difficult and seemingly intractable problems; where you need to juggle multiple uncertainties; where no one person or organisation can find or organise the solution on their own…”
Sorkin, 2016

Watch the recorded conference HERE including Richard’s talk.

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