We are delighted to announce that Senior Lecturer in Organisation Studies, Dr Jenna Pandeli, along with co-authors Michael Marinetto and Jean Jenkins, has been nominated for the SAGE Prize for Innovation and Excellence 2020 for their paper ‘Captives in Cycles of Invisibility? Prisoners’ Work for the Private Sector’.
The SAGE Prize for Innovation and Excellence is awarded annually to one paper in each of the BSA’s prestigious journals: Cultural Sociology, Sociological Research Online, Sociology and Work, Employment and Society. The prize will be awarded to the paper published in the previous year’s volume judged to represent innovation or excellence in the field.
Dr Pandeli’s article critiques a case of modern prison-labour by exploring prisoners’ attitudes towards the prison-work they undertake while incarcerated. The study is based at a privatised male prison in the UK, assigned the pseudonym ‘Bridgeville’. Bridgeville contracts with private-sector firms in providing market-focused prison-work – so-called real work – for inmates in some of its workshops. In exploring prisoners’ perceptions of this privatised prison-work, it is found that it mainly comprises mundane, low-skilled activities typical of informalised, poor-quality jobs that are socially, legally and economically devalued and categorised as forms of ‘invisible work’. At Bridgeville, such privatised prison-work largely fails in engaging or upskilling inmates, leaving them pessimistic about its value as preparation for employment post-release. Its rehabilitative credentials are therefore questioned. The article contributes to the debate around invisible work more generally by problematising this example of excluded work and the cycle of disadvantage that underpins it.
The completion of ‘Captives in Cycles of Invisibility? Prisoners’ Work for the Private Sector’ followed a recent blog post for the American Sociological Association. The blog piece is a condensed article of Dr Pandeli’s paper published in Work Employment and Society. The research discussed in this blog post is based on a study conducted in the UK and is particularly pertinent in helping to understand the reasoning behind one of the largest prison strikes in US history last summer, where prisoners undertook nineteen days of peaceful protest. At the heart of this protest was a demonstration against imposed prison labour and the disturbingly low wages that accompany such work.
This approach to prison work, an approach where profit is becoming more prevalent and private organisations are becoming more and more involved in the prison system, is not isolated to the US. It is no surprise then, that as part of the UK Government’s ‘rehabilitative revolution’, a focus on work inside prison has been embraced. However, the rehabilitative potential of prison labour is dependent on its design. Given that it is situated within an institution that is in a constant state of conflict between punishment, rehabilitation and increasingly profit, its status is contested. The research explores how prisoners experience their prison labour, specifically, that done for private firms inside the prison system.
Continuing on this topic, you can also listen to Dr Pandeli in part of a panel discussion on the BBC World Service podcast ‘In The Balance’.
Alongside Nila Bala and Chandra Bozelko, both prison reform advocates from the US, they discuss global prison labour and its exploitative potential as well as offering potential solutions to develop prison labour into something that is rehabilitative and better for society.
Guest blog: Richard Bolden, Professor of Leadership and Management and Director of the Bristol Leadership and Change Centre
What a difference a few days make… Perhaps it’s the sunny
Spring days after a long, wet winter; the dog walks spent chatting with
teenagers who would normally be off at school; the unexpected free space in my
diary with no expectation that I should be in the office; or because so much of
what we take for granted has changed so suddenly.
At the time of writing we are in the fourth day of the
lockdown called by the UK government to slow the spread of the Covid-19 virus.
It’s been a tense few weeks as the wave of infections grew ever closer – no
longer focussed within a far and distant sounding part of China but causing
havoc across Italy, France, Spain, the UK and now it seems, pretty much every
part of the world. A quarter of the global population – a staggering 2 billion
people – are currently in some form of lockdown, confined to their homes in
order to slow the spread of the virus and, in so doing, allow time for governments
and health services to prepare for the spike in patient numbers and the
inevitable rising death toll.
Almost overnight UWE, Bristol – like universities, schools
and colleges around the world – closed its doors and shifted from face-to-face
to online delivery. Staff and students have responded with huge adaptability – revising
delivery and assessment processes that would have taken months, if not years, through
traditional channels. The speed and the scale of changes for organisations in
every sector and location are unprecedented. Manufacturers have switched their operations
to enable the production of essential items such as ventilators, face masks, hand
sanitiser and paracetamol that are now in such high and urgent demand. Governments
have drawn up detailed plans to support individuals and organisations at risk
of redundancy/bankruptcy – casting aside the usual economic concerns to focus
on social priorities such as protecting the vulnerable, supporting those in financial
difficulty and strengthening core public services (particularly health and
social care). And communities have rallied together in ways not seen since WWII
– providing support and reassurance for the elderly and isolated, sacrificing
personal liberties for collective benefit and finding new ways to connect, communicate
In the words of the Chinese curse we are indeed living in
interesting times (1) – both fraught with risk and opportunity. The turbulence of
the last few years has revealed deep divisions within society, as illustrated
particularly clearly in the Brexit vote within the UK and Trump presidency in
the US. The rise of populism has been associated with scepticism and distrust
of experts and evidence, with social media providing the perfect echo chamber
for amplifying the polarity of perspectives and questioning the nature of
‘truth’. Differing ideologies and beliefs have been positioned in opposition to
one another – them and us, winners and losers, do or die – rather than as an inevitable
and desirable characteristic of a diverse and inclusive society, which enables
creativity, adaptability and resilience in times of complexity, uncertainty and
One of the remarkable consequences of the Coronavirus
pandemic has been how quickly it has reset the dial on many of these issues –
fostering calls for compassion, solidarity and collective action. At times like
this it is our similarities rather than our differences that define us. This is
as true for those in positions of power and privilege as those who are
marginalised and/or find themselves living in precarity. We are all susceptible to the virus, all have
people we care about who are likely to become very ill or perhaps even die should
they catch it, and will all be affected by the economic and social impacts of
the outbreak – not just for the months that it lasts but for years to come. The
capacity of individuals, families, organisations, communities and nations to
weather the storm is not equal, however, with those with least access to financial,
emotional and other resources most likely to bear the brunt of the suffering.
An unexpected outcome of Covid-19 is the impact on the
environment. The reduction in pollution levels around the world during just the
relatively short time in which travel, manufacturing and other environmentally
damaging activities have been reduced demonstrates both how directly human
activity impacts on the environment and the remarkable ability of the environment,
and the animals and plants within it, to recover if given the opportunity. For
those who have been calling for a step-change for policy, practice and
behaviour towards a more sustainable way of life there is no more compelling
evidence of the extent to which this is possible and the environmental benefits
it would produce.
For those of us interested in leadership research, education and practice there are many important lessons to take from the current situation. I’m sure everyone will have their own take on events but as a starter for ten here are a few of my own takeaways so far.
Shared purpose – after winning a significant majority in the general election of December 2019 Boris Johnson and his government focussed on building a sense of urgency and commitment to ‘getting Brexit done’ that largely entrenched rather than unified opinions around this issue. With Covid-19 the focus has completely shifted to a shared purpose that unites rather than divides individuals and communities. It took a little while to get to this point but, for now at least, the nation is far more unified around a common purpose than it has been for many years.
Collective leadership – whilst there
is a tendency to equate ‘leadership’ with the traits and behaviours of
individual ‘leaders’ the Covid-19 pandemic demonstrates the need for individuals
and groups to work concurrently and collaboratively in order to achieve leadership
outcomes. In daily news briefings, Prime Minister Johnson and members of the
cabinet have stood alongside the Chief Medical Officer and other experts to
provide clarity and direction to an uncertain population. Whilst this is
perhaps the most visible ‘leadership’ at national level it is abundantly clear that
it is dependent on significant acts of leadership elsewhere as well as the
active ‘followership’ of those responding to calls for care and consideration.
Systems change – the Coronavirus
pandemic is an inherently complex problem that requires expertise and effort
from multiple domains to make sense of the issues and to mobilise timely and
effective responses. The concept of ‘systems leadership’, increasingly advocated
within public services, highlights the need to influence and leverage engagement
across organisational, professional and other boundaries. Frequently this means
needing to lead without formal authority – to work with principles of
complexity and systems thinking to initiate new patterns of behaviour that spread
from one context to another. It also involves dismantling and rebuilding
systems, structures and processes – both physical and psychological – that constrain
rather than enable transformation and change.
Sensemaking – in times of ambiguity
and uncertainty leadership has a key role to play in helping people to make
sense of the situation(s) in which they find themselves. The people who will be
recognised as ‘leaders’ are those who are able to frame the context in a way
that acknowledges the nature and severity of the issue(s), addresses the
concerns of their constituents and which provides a degree of clarity about the
actions/responses that are required. Within the US Andrew Cuomo, the Governor
of New York, has emerged as key national figure in mobilising the response to
Coronavirus – providing far greater clarity and direction than Trump and now
being mooted as the democratic candidate for the next US election despite not
even standing as a nominee.
Place based leadership – whilst many national figures have struggled to grapple with the scale and implications of the issues posed by Covid-19 local leaders have often responded far quicker and been more effective at mobilising public, private, voluntary and community groups and organisations to collaborate and respond. Place-based leadership is responsive to the context that surrounds it – drawing together multiple perspectives and expertise to address issues of concern to citizens within a particular locale – and will be essential not only in dealing with the immediate effects of Covid-19 but in the long period of rebuilding and recovery that will follow the pandemic.
These are just a few initial reflections and there is far
more that could be said. Looking forward I have no doubt that the Spring of
2020 will be seen as a defining moment in our understanding of and engagement
with leadership, complexity and change. I only hope that we learn the lessons and
make use of them to create a stronger, healthier, kinder, safer world rather
than defaulting back to the divisive and destructive policies, practices and
behaviours that preceded the current crisis (2).
(2) Please do share your own reflections and insights by
means of the comments box at the end of the post in order to continue the
discussion. Further reading and resources linked to the themes raised in this
article are given below.
Moon Executive Search recently spoke to the Director of Doctoral Research in Business and Law at UWE Bristol, Svetlana Cicmil, about the paradox of success and failure in the context of modern businesses. Read the original post here.
“Most [IT] projects fail; it is just a question of how much failure can still be deemed a success’”[Cadle and Yeates (2001)]
The binary notions of success and failure govern much of the way that both individuals and organisations approach, experience and evaluate work. But how adequate is the traditional narrative of success and failure? Does it enable or hinder the pursuit of constructive, fulfilling work?
The consequences of constantly evaluating our actions and achievements as binary outcomes can not only be long-lasting, and include anxiety and insecurity, professional penalties, and loss of direction; they can also make us lose our ability to sensitively, holistically and constructively reflect on our activities and organisational purpose in a wider social context.
Take the IT industry, for example, it is famous for its failures at the project level and for its success at the industry level:
“Massive failure rates have never threatened the advance of IT; quite the contrary, high-risk and prone-to-fail projects nearly always characterize leading-edge industries. Failure in this sense is the price of success.” (Sauer, 1999, quoted in Fincham, 2002, p.2)
This not only demonstrates how ‘failure’ is required for innovation, but also that the attributions of failure and success are dependent on who judges them, at which point in time, and at which level of activity.
Therefore, it is fair to say that failure and success are interrelated in an elusive way. Drawing on insights from studies of project-based work we can examine the elusive nature of the fixed categories of success and failure, illuminate the multiple judgments of success and failure that are simultaneously at play, and encourage a more critical and complex approach to coping with this dilemma in everyday working life.
Increasingly employees are finding that their roles have become project-intensive and that as a result they are working and making decisions within the organising principles of matrix structures. In theory, matrix structures support effective and efficient utilisation of an organisations’ resources, creating the capacity to simultaneously run multiple projects.
However, a well-researched syndrome of project overload includes the pressures and anxieties caused by the simultaneous existence of multiple, mutually-exclusive, but complexly interrelated criteria for evaluating the performance of each of the projects that an employee may be simultaneously involved in.
Where multiple parties participate in project initiation and delivery, they will make sense of, and engage with, the project in different ways and with different ambitions and expectations, this can create irreconcilable criteria.
The challenge is to find a way for the project’s participants to negotiate and agree on the key criteria against which inevitable changes to the project plan, resulting trade-offs, and any redefinitions of the original goal and specification will be tested and evaluated.
In order to do this, we need to consider how the notions of success and failure are framed. Instead of working with belief that success and failure are polarised, discrete, fixed states, organisations should be asking how they can provide their employees with a fulfilling and meaningful working life which is not impacted by the requirement to undertake multiple projects. But how can this be achieved?
Firstly, review the ambitions driving each project in a more reflexive, caring and satisfying manner. This requires awareness of the need to navigate the unknown in a responsible way which will avoid the negligence and reckless risk-taking that may detrimentally impact those involved in the project.
Secondly, failure is often tied up with a feeling of having let down and disappointed the project team and wider company. But does this stem from original unrealistic expectations? When undertaking a new project ask for an objective opinion on the ambition, expectations, and goals, do not discard previous experiences as irrelevant with the conviction that things will go better this time, and make sure that there is time to consult and check.
Deviation from a plan should not be considered a failure if everyone involved has been open-minded, critically reflexive, and collaborative about what new opportunities this might bring.
Finally, the leadership team should introduce systemic changes that acknowledge the complexity of project-based work. These could include incorporating regular reviews of established processes and approaches to collaboration, agreeing and renegotiating project performance indicators, and introducing a high level of accountability, responsibility, and transparency in decision-making to reduce vulnerability from project overload.
By considering the experience of success and failure in the context of project-based work, we find that the success-failure binary is not only too simplistic but is actively harmful to the pursuit of what matters. Rather than considering success as something desirable and failure as a pathology to be eradicated, should they not be considered in a complex relational way? If so, the key questions, therefore, move from ‘Why did this fail?’ to ‘What was achieved?’ and ‘What can be learned from this?’
From 13-15 December 2019 Bristol Leadership and Change Centre hosted the 18th International Studying Leadership Conference, which was attended by around 140 delegates from 13 different countries.
The conference featured three keynote addresses (Prof Peter Case from UWE, Prof Sonia Ospina from the NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, and Prof Elena Antonacopoulou from the University of Liverpool), a panel discussion at City Hall (chaired by Prof Robin Hambleton with contributions from Mayor Marvin Rees, Kalpna Woolf and Andy Street), five parallel streams (including almost 90 separate papers) and a gala dinner at the Marriott Royal Hotel on College Green.
Participants have been invited to submit their papers for a special issue of the journal Leadership on the conference theme of ‘Putting leadership in its place’, which will be edited by Neil Sutherland, Gareth Edwards, Doris Schedlitzki and Richard Bolden.
“A tale of two cities” – that’s how a colleague described Bristol
when I asked for an introduction. There’s
something ominous about the image of parallel universes inhabiting the same space.
In the Charles Dickens novel, the two cities are Paris and London in the late
1700s as social order breaks down under the burden of inequality and industrial
transformation. The political and industrial revolutions were tipping points
from which unforeseen transformations followed around the world. We may be at a
similar point now, and in April 2020 we will host a one-week ‘Round-Tables for Experienced Managers’
to examine what’s happening at the front line, in the experience of people who
are leading, managing and organising businesses, public services, social
enterprises and cross-sector initiatives.
Participants come from all over the world, with
contributions from world-leading experts including Professor Henry Mintzberg and Professor Jonathan Gosling. In 2020
the RoundTables will be hosted for the first time in Bristol, in partnership
with UWE’s Bristol
Leadership and Change Centre. As well as those lucky enough to take part in
the whole process there are opportunities for local organisations to host short
investigative visits, when they will be subject to curious but friendly
scrutiny – always a source of intriguing insight and provocative questions.
Titled ‘Managing Around the World’, the programme
concentrates on the challenges that each person is facing. In structured, progressive
peer-to-peer exercises we analyse and re-frame those challenges, bringing fresh
insights and broader perspectives. We visit local organisations (in
multi-national teams) and delve into the dynamics of ‘two cities’ Bristol.
The outcomes are likely to be personal and practical for
most people because of the focus on each organisational predicament. Most of
the activities are readily adapted to use in organisational and community
settings. Equally exciting is the opportunity to pool all this experience of
leading, managing and organising towards fresh insights of what’s happening on
the ground, around the world and in Bristol: are we really at a tipping point? Where
are tangible and significant responses to the climate emergency, artificial intelligence,
post-colonialism? What are the most hopeful of these, and what more could each
of us do?
The RoundTables programme has previously inspired
significant projects, such as Professor Peter Case’s work
with front-line health services in Zimbabwe, Namibia and Eswatini. Eliminating
malaria is a real possibility after years of successful control; but success
depends on active intervention on a case-by-case basis. This in turn relies on
local knowledge, resourcefulness and cooperation across health and community
activists, and on the ability to invent customised responses in unpredictable
and complex environments. Because ‘Managing around the world’ combines systemic
perspectives with focused attention to each actual challenge, and does so with
the front-line people involved, it has been a means for organisational
re-invention – in humble, particular, humane ways, and demonstrably effective. In
fact the model developed in Zimbabwe has now been adapted again to support the
integrated care process in several parts of the NHS.
But back to Bristol – can this one-week programme be an
effective catalyst for the ‘two cities’, and for the way we organise, lead and
manage? A catalyst is a temporary architecture that enables new realities to
emerge. That’s our aim for ‘Managing Around the World’, which will take place
at the MShed on Bristol’s historic harbourside from 26th April to 1st
As the local host, we pleased to invite current and former
students of UWE, Bristol and members of our networks to join the programme at a
discounted rate, or to accommodate visits from the programme participants. The
programme will be co-directed by Anita Gulati, a
long-term associate of UWE and lead for the Bristol Leadership Challenge
programme delivered across the city in 2017-18.
To find out more about the RoundTables and register your
interest please contact Lucy
Wilson at UWE and visit the programme website here.
Professor Peter Case’s research on malaria healthcare service provision expanded to Namibia this year. Peter’s research teams – including three recent Zimbabwean graduates from the FBL Postgraduate Certificate in Professional Practice in Change Leadership – are currently working with Namibia’s Vector-borne Diseases Control Programme to combat malaria by improving frontline prevention and treatment of the disease in Kavango Province.
In order to help make the overall Organization Development for Malaria Elimination work sustainable in the region, FBL is supporting a fresh cohort of twelve students (pictured) to complete a postgraduate certificate in Professional Practice in Change Leadership. The module was launched this week with a two-day course delivered in Rundu by Dr Greyling Viljoen. By all accounts, the taught programme was very well received and students gave extremely positive feedback on their experience. The efforts of FBL’s Professor Carol Jarvis and Felicity Cargill should also be acknowledged as they have assisted greatly with setting up the course and enrolling the new cohort.
Most of the students enrolled on the module are also members of project task force which is developing and implementing detailed action plans for malaria healthcare improvements in Kavango. Following the PPCL course, they will be working with Dr Viljoen and one of the Zimbabwean graduates from last year, Munashe Madinga of the Clinton Health Access Initiative, to review and further refine service improvement plans.
The overall project in Namibia is a collaboration between UWE and the Malaria Elimination Initiative, University of California San Francisco. The work is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
[Image: Back row: 1. Ms A Augustu, 2. Ms Loise Ambata, 3. Dr K Mapanga, 4. Ms A Ashivudhi, 5. Ms Julie Neidel, 6. Dr H David 7. Mr M Madinga
Front row: 1. Mr S Shashipapa, 2. Ms I Mendai, 3. Dr G Viljoen, 4. Ms E Eises 5. Ms S Haingura, 6. Mr S Nairenge ]
Senior Lecturer in Strategy and Enterprise, Pam Seanor recently hosted a workshop for NMI, a payment solution company, in Lego ® Serious Play®. Read her account below:
Written by Pam Seanor
Between practice and theorising
Serious-playing with Jayne Purcell, Service designer, we facilitated a day workshop with NMI – “You’ve probably used NMI’s software when booking a train ticket, paying for parking, ordering a burger or most recently making a contactless charity donation, without realising it! NMI develops the most trusted payment software for mobile, online, and in-store payments that is relied on and used by millions of people worldwide, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year” ( https://bristolcalling.com/company/nmi/ ).
As such, the organisation has explicit creative processes and outputs that come together worked on by differing teams. Further, NMI have recently been engaged in a merger and are now part of global organisation with offices in Chicago, IL, New York, NY and Salt Lake City, UT. The Bristol office wanted to try out LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® with the intention to come together over their working within a changing work culture, how they work and how they are going forward as the organisation grows.
We created a space to exchange ideas and develop awareness of differing perspectives and complex themes that encompass social aspects of group practices and activities aiming to reach out to the members of the organisation (Nicolini & Monteiro 2017). Based this encounter, we address the following applying a practice-based approach to entrepreneurship (Nicolini 2012) in part using Lego bricks to play seriously and in part to reveal collective critical reflection.
LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® (LSP) is a process underpinned by theorizing and
there is increased interest of how academics are using it and more widely
serious play with a purpose (Statler et al. 2011). For instance, Gauntlett
(2015) stated “it is a playful method of differing applications to help
gain insights in to personal and collective understanding of a problem as well
as imagine possible futures”. The process has common ground rules/ etiquette: posing
the question – the purpose of the workshop; constructing models; sharing and
listening to others; reflecting (White paper on LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® 2013). Both Jayne and I are trained LEGO® SERIOUS
PLAY® facilitators. Where Jayne has been a Certified facilitator for a decade, I became an LSP facilitator in January. We have been
collaborating to devise skills workshops and structured tasks and prompts for
learning ePortfolios in my enterprise & entrepreneurship modules with
undergraduates – so I had been practicing playing with Lego with large numbers
of students. Even so,
it was a little daunting taking a low-tech tool like Lego to a creative/high
tech organization, including members of the Chicago office who travelled over.
And, as a critical researcher I want to
speak to how challenge is a central part an LSP workshop. Statler et al. (2011)
noted the paradox of serious play as a process of working through paradoxes
rather than removing all tensions and contradictions that arise in everyday
work practices. On the one hand, I am really interested in working with
organization to create “other” spaces for play (Hjorth 2004), on the other hand
I am hesitant to promote play as an outcome similar to how organizations like
Google seem to be using it managerially to keep people at work to be more
productive (Ashton & Giddings 2018). However, as a facilitator, my role is
not to intervene, nor to promise participants specific organizational outcomes
from the workshop.
It was not possible for all members of NMI to take part; the workshop was 5 groups of 10 participants at each table. These groups were arranged by a member of the NMI team as they often work together on projects in the organisation.
The workshop offered an opportunity to engage in play activities that they would not normally do in work and differing types of social encounters (e.g. to the worst holiday model build we had one participant share a poem of this family holiday – An ode to a dead cat).
We had initially intended to move members of teams around during the day; however, we felt some flexibility was needed and discussed this with the organiser and chose to keep within teams to better draw people out. After the morning practising how to play the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® way, the afternoon was focused on play and “the spirit in which we do what we do, the feel of the team”.
Taking care not to include any people in these images, photographs were taken of models metaphorically representing some of the real-world concerns about working at NMI. The focus is the model. Each post-it note is a few words to describe the key point of their model. Prior to the photos being taken by one of the members of the NMI team, permission was asked to use them in this blog.
Anyone not wishing to be included was asked to speak with one of us as facilitators. And, the draft of this blog was sent for approval prior to circulating. In the spirit of participants telling their own stories, rather than me as a researcher crafting the narrative, the following are examples of differing metaphors to represent their ideas.
Before, I want to highlight that we offered a day for the workshop 9.30AM – 4PM to give participants the opportunity to get used to playing and to play. Even with this time, we could not cover all that we hoped, and we agreed with the organiser that this was a useful starting point from which he could take forward ideas emerging.
WELCOME – A model of feeling welcomed – a few participants newly joined the team – of the team engaged in their open plan office and sitting with their computer screens in front of them and of taking the time to be welcoming.
BRISTOL FOOD & DRINK – This model depicts the area near the office. The location is in the harbourside reflected with the bridge and one of the harbourside cranes created to show the value of being able to go out for coffee/lunch in these areas and of the value of regularly seeing sea birds (and of socialising after work).
COMPASSION – this model holds 2 key metaphors, the rainbow towers and the ladder above as bridging together the organisation. This also reflected other models that were of diversity and balance and valuing members of the team – here represented by many mini figures.
KNOWLEDGE & WISDOM – A concern of change for one was nurturing and maintaining the knowledge and wisdom shared by people who have long worked in the organisation represented by this tower/library build.
At the end of the afternoon, every shared model was placed and presented first one, then the next, and then next, on an empty table and briefly explained by a member of the team creating it. All participants were asked to gather round the table, to listen and once every model had been presented to have a look round. This process was to allow space for all ideas to be heard. These models can be seen in the link, motion image of the shared models created by all of the teams.
Learning -awareness- collective reflecting
and Tuckermann (2019) noted “Although scholars have begun theorising the social
notion of collective reflection in organisations, empirical studies
illustrating these often-neat theoretical conceptualisations are still rare”. Through
the use of Lego, as above, a few common themes were raised and heard – one of
the members of the Chicago office commented that she had no idea people felt
these ways. Feedback after the workshop was generally positive (NMI created a
quick and dirty survey to capture participant views).
did not assume that collective reflecting would only occur on the day. Instead,
that it would be ongoing to improve organizing at NMI. Rather than my words, I
offer an email from one of the management team who organized the day of
listening to the messages from the day and reflecting afterwards –
As such, NMI are not only seeking new location and also creating “other spaces” for play. Too, we are discussing the possibility of further serious play sessions for other members of the organisation. One aspect that somehow escaped mention in planning conversations and a meeting before the workshop was of the intended move of the office location. In hindsight we might have built more in to the intention of the day in this seemingly contradictory objective of a move and of the challenge of creating an “other” space.
This blog has been written to grapple with the paradox that Matt Statler and his colleagues speak of in serious play that might bridge between theory and practice and to provide a point of contact for future research of how we might make the challenges in theorising of serious play and collective reflection more useful for practitioners, and what we as academics might learn from practitioners. If you are interested in discussing these ideas of how serious play might contribute to critical approaches to organisation studies and/or creativity throughout the organisation to address challenges as part of the stream of entrepreneurship as practice, please contact Pam Seanor – firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks to Nigel and Emily for the use
of his photographs and for inviting us to work with you and members of the team
at NMI Bristol.
Senior Lecturer in Organisation Studies, Dr Jenna Pandeli was invited to take part in a panel discussion on the BBC world service podcast ‘In The Balance’.
Alongside Nila Bala and Chandra Bozelko, both prison reform advocates from the US, they discuss global prison labour and its exploitative potential as well as offering potential solutions to develop prison labour into something that is rehabilitative and better for society.
On Tuesday 25 June Bristol Business School hosted the ‘Unlocking Performance through Employee Engagement Conference’ in collaboration with Engage for Success, CITB and ILM. This was the first Engage for Success conference hosted outside of London, and it was fantastic to hold it here at UWE Bristol welcoming over 170 external delegates to the Business School.
The main theme of the event was around harnessing the skills of people and resources to reach new levels of engagement to boost productivity and save costs. There was also a focus on creating and sustaining employee engagement during challenging times, and with limited budgets, as often experienced by SMEs.
The event was chaired by Dr. Gareth Edwards, Associate Professor of Leadership Development at UWE Bristol, whilst Noordin Shehabuddeen, Director of Bristol Business Engagement Centre at UWE Bristol, welcomed the delegates, who came from a variety of professions from within the South West including the construction industry, accounting and finance, and local government.
The conference was treated to some excellent keynote speakers focusing on the necessity for employee engagement now more than ever, to case studies from baby food manufacturer Ella’s Kitchen to Wilmott Dixon, a local construction company, who were recently ranked the 4th Best Company to work for by the Sunday Times.
There then followed a series of interactive workshops led by invited guests who are also ambassadors for Engage for Success, and a rather intriguing energiser event led by the Creator of Joy at Inspire me, who was able to create a credible rock choral version of ‘Aint No Mountain High Enough’ in just 20 mins – definitely an occasion which you had to be part of to actually believe.
The event concluded with a keynote address from Andrew Sandiford, Managing Partner of local accountancy firm Bishop Fleming, followed by a panel discussion to answer questions submitted by the delegates throughout the day. It was evident that employee engagement is everyone’s responsibility, and many of the questions centered on how to do this if given little or no budget, as well as strategies as to how to gain support from the cynics and buy-in from senior management. Support was certainly gained by everyone present, and we were delighted to have hosted such a fantastic event.