Continuous Improvement blogCultural change can be triggered when faced with the facts

The Ordinances and Regulations (O&R) Working Group at Strathclyde are responsible for approving curriculum changes and ensuring that the University regulations are accurate. O&R staff had previously tried to engage the wider university community to improve the process and reduce the backlog of work, but had little success. What could they do to turn things around?

The power of baseline data

With support from the Business Improvement Team, O&R staff gathered data on a variety of aspects of the process, including the number of committee papers that needed to be returned to the authors to fix errors, and the number of outstanding actions that were waiting for faculty input. This evidence was extremely helpful in demonstrating the need for improvement and the team energetically communicated the data far and wide, using it to gain the support of stakeholders who previously hadn’t thought the process needed to change.

“The O&R team were all too aware that the current process was failing, but with no evidence to substantiate our claims it was extremely difficult to change perceptions and behaviours.  The results of the data collation were compelling, meaning support for change was forthcoming once the outcomes were shared with all stakeholders involved in the O&R process.” - O&R Secretary

The data was so powerful, it helped O&R staff secure a resource to design an online file-share system to improve the access to process guidelines and templates, and improve file version control and communication of committee decisions.

Outstanding results

Once the process changes were implemented, post-improvement data was also captured for a full academic year as O&R staff were keen to demonstrate that the changes offered more than brief success and would deliver improvements beyond the short term. Manual data capture over this length of time can be difficult to keep track of, but the team kept on top of it using the Evidencing Benefits toolkit. The findings were fantastic: an 82% point reduction in the number of papers that had to be returned to authors to fix errors and 28% point reduction in the number of outstanding actions at the end of the year!

But O&R staff didn’t stop there. They continued to capture data for a third academic year which revealed there were no outstanding actions by the end of the year and 100% of the papers had been submitted by the published deadlines. The staff are delighted with these results and not only are they themselves aware of the cultural change that has taken place towards this process, but they can demonstrate it to all their stakeholders using the data they have gathered.

To find out more check out their case study and our Evidencing Benefits toolkit.