Sunday, 27 September 2015

A Week of Planning, Developing, and Celebrating Together

I think I might have slept in Victoria Beckhams bed last week, but I don’t know. It’s not because I had too much to drink or my memory is failing me, it’s simply I don’t know which bed she was sleeping in when David Beckham proposed to her back in 1998. Last week I stayed at the same hotel where the proposal was made. I was at the Rookery Hall, in Nantwich, with our team of Associate Deans on a 2 day team development and planning event. The Associate Dean’s team is a relatively new group, and have only been together for some 9 months.This was the first time we had been able to spend some time together focusing on ourselves as a team rather than on work issues.

It was a grand building and a wonderful setting for some team building. Mobile phone signals were almost non-existent and after trying half a dozen times to get a signal, we all gave up and accepted the lack of contact with the outside world. Our time together was facilitated by a couple of very experienced consultants from Lois Burton. They skilfully enabled us to explore our shared values, roles and ways of working with each other. It certainly wasn't always an easy journey of discovery, and of course it was only a start.

Now some people have been known to comment on my tendency to use my blog as an excuse to indulge in being a restaurant critic, usually being less than complimentary on the food I have been offered. The good folk at Rookery Hall genuinely surprised me with both their service and the food served. At the evening meal, none of the team felt like a sweet, so we ordered a cheese board for 6 and when it came it was superb. Unlike the journey home which due to the Friday evening traffic, was very long and tiresome.

It was the second time in a week I had found myself stuck in traffic. Wednesday evening I travelled back from Chester, and the journey was just as bad. However, as it was the 23rd I raised a glass of champagne in celebration and memory of my younger brother Christopher, who died 8 years ago. Christopher was at one time a landlord of pub in Kent, and he knew a great deal about alcohol (my Mother would probably say he was too familiar with the demon drink). What I didn't know was that there are 1 million bubbles in a glass of champagne. Gerard Liger-Belair, publishing his research in the Journal of Physical Chemistry, has come up with a new way of calculating the number of bubbles. It’s something to do with the tilt of the glass, the temperature of the champagne and something called 'bubble dynamics'. Mind you, Gerard says you only get a million bubbles if you don’t drink any of the champagne.
I had a reason for travelling back from Chester in the Wednesday rush hour. Along with my University Management Team colleagues, I had spent the previous 2 days contributing to the thinking that will bring our University strategic planning objectives to life. I have to say, apart from it being hard work, the teamwork was brilliant. I really like being in the company of enthusiastic and creative colleagues all committed to producing something new, something good.

Whilst the recently published Dowling Review into the way universities partner and collaborate with business and industry helped structure our thinking, the University of Salford has a long tradition and history of undertaking research and other scholarly activity which has a real world impact. Much of this research is undertaken in partnership with industry. Last year, across our School, we secured £2 million in research funding, all of which has been for projects aimed at delivering real world solutions in health, social care, the criminal justice system, as well as in the social sciences, and the arts and humanities.

Its Sunday, and the start of new week. Last week our new students started and I got to welcome them all to the School and the start of their personal journeys of discovery. As it is Sunday I am looking forward to doing something different and not work related, work stuff will have to wait until tomorrow. But maybe, if there is a spare moment or two today, I might do some desk-top research and search the internet to see if I can find which bedroom Posh Spice slept in all those years ago… 

...and last nights England versus Wales rugby match provides a great case study as to the importance of effective team working... ...what a result!