Blog and Opinion
24 January 2018 • Liduine Bremer
All or nothing
Last week was a busy management week for LS. On Monday afternoon, we and the other deans spoke with the Executive Board about how we could be more effective. On Thursday, there was a leadership conference also attended by the managers of the degree programme, units and faculty offices and team leaders.
Agenda for 2018
Previous to this, Leonard presented the agenda for 2018. It was then that we noted what an ambitious agenda this was and that it will now be particularly important to focusing on its implementation. We want a lot, but wanting a lot means the risk of not getting anything done. Next, we attended workshops in which we practised skills needed to actually carry out this agenda.
Meanwhile, we had that terrible storm on Thursday. During a storm, it’s not just the atmospheric pressure that changes. Pressure changes things: under pressure, everything turns soft. On the other hand, low pressure can turn some things solid. Physical safety – something we took for granted before – is something we suddenly have to take active measures to maintain. Quick decisions that are easy to communicate and carry out suddenly become crucial and also easier to reach due to that other (in the storm analogy, atmospheric) pressure. It’s almost enough to make you wish for storms: without a storm, that decisiveness can be pretty elusive. When there is a life-threatening code red storm, safety comes first. And it’s good for us to realise this.
In a previous job, a colleague in management put it this way: my job was to make sure that nobody leaves in a coffin (and that the salaries got paid, but that’s another story). This may be a simple guiding principle if you’re in crisis mode, but it’s not meant as standard operating procedure. It may be effective at solving acute problems, but we’ll also create new ones. The NS and Prorail have to repair their overhead wires, and lecturers have to make up new exams for the students who couldn’t be there. That’s why it’s a good idea to keep looking ahead, keep working on our longer term goals – and keep making use of what we learned in that last crisis.
This means refining our crisis protocol: what can we do better from now on if code amber turns into code red? But it’s also important to hold onto that feeling of solidarity that the storm generated: it’s actually possible to reach your destination faster if you’re willing to step over obstacles and trust others (#stormpooling)!
Liduine Bremer and Simone Fredriksz are deans of the faculties of Public Management, Law & Safety and Business, Finance & Marketing respectively. They will be blogging in turn during this academic year.