All posts by cdv

Head of Organisational Development at University of Kent. Change Academy 2011 member.

A Little More on Change Academy Values

Cindy Vallance

I spoke in my last posting about the values we initially decided were important within the Change Academy initiative.

Just to recap, these are: Involving students, Openness, Collaboration, Innovation, Listening, Equality, Partnering, Inspiration, Fun, Respect, Trust. I asked the question “Who wouldn’t want to work and study with people who are trying their best to demonstrate these qualities, especially in a time of increasing change, uncertainty, unrest and pressure?”

Coincidentally, I happened to read, just one day after my posting, this statement about values:

 “Statistically speaking, (in creating a list of ‘values’), you have just created a document that will be the source of one of the top five greatest reasons for contempt, de-motivation, disloyalty and turnover in your organisation. All of this comes from the discrepancy between the values on the wall and the values on the ground. Organisations list values. But they don’t live them. And people hate this. They really, really hate it.” – Kline, Nancy (2009), More Time To Think, p. 271, Fisher King Publishing, England.

The reality, of course, is that organisations don’t live values – it is the people in the organisation that can and do. But what values?

When we had our initial conversations about the Change Academy initiative, we discussed the fact that the vision of Change Academy is to help teams of staff and students develop their knowledge, capacity and enthusiasm for achieving complex institutional change to benefit the student learning experience.

How can we do this within our own Change Academy initiative? We can do this by living the values we have said we support and by encouraging others to do the same. We can do this by considering the impact of our words and our actions on others. We can ask ourselves: Do we regularly build others up or do we tear them down? Do we walk away from meetings inspired or dejected? What are we doing to contribute to the success or failure of the meeting? Do we use our interactions as an opportunity to positively enhance our relationships with students and staff?

As part of the Change Academy project, I recently had the opportunity to participate in a Thinking Environment Master Class through the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education. The goal of the session was to demonstrate how valuing the contribution of each person can drive team effectiveness, improve relationships and result in shorter, smarter meetings. I’ll share some of the principles and processes from the session in future blogs.

Sounds too good to be true? Come back with an open mind and see what you think.


Why the interest in the Change Academy? Core Values and Vision for 2015

Cindy Vallance

Why are people interested? I believe this is due to what we have loosely called our values and the qualities that we are working to exemplify as a group:

Involving students                  Openness                           Collaboration                    Innovation

Listening                     Equality                               Partnering                          Inspiration         

Fun                                        Respect                                                Trust     

Who wouldn’t want to work and study with people who are trying their best to demonstrate these qualities, especially in a time of increasing change, uncertainty, unrest and pressure?

A memorable quote from Tom Ritchie (Kent Union President) at the end of the Residential event: I thought that the Change Academy event would be boring, would not be of any value and that I would be treated as the token student. Instead, I found the experience interesting, the activities valuable, and I have had an equal voice with others at the table.

At the Residential, we spent a great deal of time shut away in a small room, talking and sharing our thoughts of what we would like to collectively achieve.

We came up with some thoughts of what we would like to see at University of Kent by the time we celebrate our 50th anniversary in 2015. In no particular order here are some of our key themes:

Everyone feels that change is possible – giving people better work (‘getting things working better’)

  1. People feel able to implement change
  2. Good teaching is recognised and respected as much as good research
  3. Innovative techniques,  inter-institution collaboration and best practice sharing occur
  4. There will be an effective, clear, and positive communications strategy
  5. We will reinforce positive messages through our language and our interactions with others
  6. There will be joined up thinking everywhere
  7. All are respectful and all voices are listened to
  8. Income streams for the University are transparent and understood by all staff
  9. Technology really works including consistent good quality use of Moodle
  10. All are involved within the fabric of the University
  11. There are opportunities to have debate and conversations around liaison and learning
  12. Students and staff feel proud to be at Kent and recommend Kent to others
  13. We form lasting relationships between staff, students, and employers
  14. There is early exposure to senior, characterful and dynamic teaching staff
  15. Students are helped to define why they are there and what they want from the experience. When they leave the university they know what they have achieved and gained
  16. Staff provide useful references and career advice to students
  17. There is a realisation that there really is no ‘typical’ staff or student
  18. Staff and students are involved in and have input into the creation and implementation of he institutional plan
  19. Staff and students integrate with other, different, staff and students – we break down silos


We will not achieve this vision through the efforts of only a few. We are on a journey and this journey has only just begun. Join in by commenting on these blogs and share your thinking with us. Learn more about our thoughts, ideas and plans in the blogs that will follow.

Setting the Context for Change Academy: What is it and who is involved?


Cindy Vallance

Staff and student members from the University of Kent have been participating in a Change Academy initiative within Social Sciences. What is Change Academy?

Residential Team (left to right): Tom Ritchie, Simon Black, Bill Collier, Helen Carr, Stephen Burke. Not shown: Gill Sinclair, Cindy Vallance.

Change Academy is a partnership between the Higher Education Academy and the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education. This year, ten HE institutions took part in a residential programme to help teams of staff and students develop their knowledge, capacity and enthusiasm for achieving complex institutional change to benefit the student learning experience. A key event of the Change Academy programme was the four-day residential experience in September 2011 which launched the initiative and was designed to encourage our team and others to focus attention on our projects, encourage creativity, and develop and practice a range of techniques to build momentum for change following our return to Kent. The original residential team has been thrilled to see the interest that others have shown for the initiative and the group has already nearly doubled in size since returning from the residential event with the addition of Alison Dean, Naomi Dumbrell, Chloé Gallien, Mick Norman, Leo Wilkinson. The current group of 12 reflects a diverse range of roles. Just consider our job titles (and yes some of them are rather lengthy): Soc Sc Faculty Learning Technologist; Economics Lecturer and Director of Studies Stage 1; Soc Sc Faculty Administration Manager; Master of Eliot College and KBS Senior Tutor, Project and Finance Manager; Learning and Development Adviser; Timetabling Office Learning and Teaching Space Manager; Kent Union President; Head of Organisational Development; KBS Senior Lecturer and Soc Sc Sub-Dean for Learning and Teaching; Soc Sc Student Representative, Learning and Development Coordinator; KLS Reader and Director of Learning and Teaching. Why is Change Academy of interest to such a wide range of already very busy people?