Thursday, 24 January 2013

Quick reflections on yesterday's system's thinking conference

This is one of those 'notes to self' posts rather than something for the benefit of anyone else (although comments still very welcome). I really need to start to organise my thoughts more on systems thinking and I'd also like to get back into the blogging habit. So here are my quick reflections on the University of Leicester's Why systems thinking conference that took place yesterday, particularly in relation to what we need to in the Career Development Service.
  • We need to pull in systems thinking expertise (there are now two members of staff in Corporate Service whose roll is to act as internal consultants).
  • I think that our system is more complicated than the case studies I heard about in one of the sessions on distance learning (though I may be wrong). The case study involved a team of less than two FTEs, they were able to pull in a eight people for the initial 'check' stage over a six week period, and the flow seemed relatively simple (I enquire, I apply, I pay, I study, I graduate).
  • As a Service we need to devote more time to this (demand analysis in the hub has been running now since the end of November last year and is now begin recorded and categorised routinely). The next stages, I think, are to review the demand on a regular basis and also to establish what our 'flow' is.
  • We also need to re-establish our purpose in the customers own words and more precisely. Perhaps: "work with me to gain the advice, experience, skills and opportunities I need to gain a graduate job or graduate study" (something like that).
  • Resolve how employers and staff fit into the system.
  • Also need to figure out how to capture demand at all points of transaction, not just the hub (Unitemps, TARGETconnect, individual staff etc.).
  • Need regular and cumulative reviews of demand in order to identify what  is normal variation in the system and what are the genuine peaks that need addressing (need to be careful not to just tamper with the system).
And if we can do all that we'll be laughing! I think I might second myself to the project. And I really must finish reading that book!


  1. Some initial thoughts on the various points of contact/demand.


    1) Hub
    2) Applications/enquiries for the leicester Award (LAES email and mine and Elizabeth's email and possibly the programme leaders)
    3) Volunteering team enquiries (Contact email and Volunteering email, possibly also through student recruitment/WP team)
    4) Target preferences
    5) WRL team enquiries (I don't know enough about this).
    6) SU driven demand

    Students via Staff

    1) Academic departmental contacts with Career Development Service links. What do departments ask us for? Is this what students want? (Careers Tutor meeting/ Career Development team)..what is the system for requests for support?
    2)Setting up a new LA award. What drives this? Need/What is already there?


    1) Target
    2) ELT
    3) other staff contacts from within the service. Again what is the system for tracking employer requests/contacts and responding to employers.

    Lots of complicated points of demand entry, maybe the first port of call is to streamline the points of demand entry before we begin the analysis. Target has already begun this, but I feel a flow chart coming on...


    1. Thanks Zara. Looking forward to the flow chart :)