Focus: beyond the pandemic

While the last two years have been incredibly tough for so many of us, they also enabled us to revaluate how we do things:  to rethink existing ways of working and how we can do things better.

Focus was integral in helping us respond to the challenges of COVID-19, and it will be at the heart of how professional services develop as we leave the pandemic behind.

Progress to date

Focus has excelled in delivering standalone projects (62 to be precise), and meanwhile there is some great Focus-inspired work being led independently by divisions and departments.

Whether it’s improving gender and ethnicity representation among Associate Professors, enabling the MPLS Divisional Office to improve oversight of its many and varied work streams, or helping Student Registry to reduce the time it takes to process academic transcripts, we see time and again the positive impact of the Focus approach in action.   

And as Focus’s reach and impact across the University continues to grow, it is vital that we adapt for the future.

Supporting staff in making their own improvements

One of the ways that Focus is evolving is by providing training for colleagues around the University, so that a wider group can benefit from its approach.

This training will focus on ‘continuous improvement’, or CI for short.

CI is a way of working that helps us to improve processes through frequent, small, positive changes.​ It’s a mindset and skillset that anyone can learn and adopt, and will help us to make improvements to our working lives. 

Focus has already been working with small numbers of ‘local practitioners’ to embed this approach in divisions and departments, and will shortly launch an online e-learning programme, available to colleagues across the University who would like to learn these skills and make improvements locally. 

Wider support

Focus is also diversifying its offering in other ways. For example, is it is already bringing value to University-wide service reviews (currently in UAS Communications, and next in HR and IT) and supporting teams through internal consultancy partnerships.

Focus will also be a key contributor in delivering the Professional Services Strategy – which I will be outlining in more detail next month.

Positive feedback

One of the reasons I am so confident that these activities will make a real difference is because of the positive feedback I hear on a regular basis about Focus’s work.  As one stakeholder said:

‘It’s great to have experienced many of the improvements already and reassuring to know that others are in the pipeline. It’s honestly been a breath of fresh air having our feedback listened to and actions put in place to address issues and concerns. I’m personally very grateful for the good work [Focus is] doing.’

I too can attest to the great work that has been achieved by Focus, over what has been a very turbulent few years for us all – and I am excited about its evolution in the months and years ahead.

If you would like to know more about the team’s work, I warmly encourage you to visit the Focus website.