The University of Newcastle, Australia

Leading the change

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

As leaders across UON have been communicating to staff, the organisational review and design work is progressing at pace. Late last year, a thorough and in depth investigation of our existing structures and functions was completed, laying the ground work for defining and clarifying accountabilities and responsibilities across UON. This piece of work, referred to as a RACI matrix, is all but complete and once endorsed by the Vice-Chancellor, will be the backbone of the redesign.

Nat McGregor, Chief Operating Officer

The RACI process was an important one for what it defined, and also for what it didn’t. There were a number of areas where accountability was not clear. Most have been resolved through the Steering Group and the VC but there are still a couple of areas being addressed through working groups. The final RACI will inform any changes to the top three or four layers of the University.

With the pace of our working environment being what it is, having clarity on accountability, responsibility, consultation and information is important across our operations. I would encourage teams to use the RACI model for their main functions and to share them broadly with your relevant stakeholders.

The organisational design project to date has clarified one thing that we all feel on a daily basis – that UON is complex organisation. There are a various reasons for this, some of which are largely unavoidable due to the nature of our core businesses.  Accepting that, the project has made clear that it is in our professional domains that we can (and should) seek greater uniformity, reduce complexity and in doing so, improve outputs across UON.

In 2017 we are fortunate to have among us some outstanding professionals – leaders in their field who bring high levels of expertise, experience and knowledge to UON. The organisational design project is providing them with the opportunity to bring that to bear as they are given responsibility for reshaping their professional domains to function more effectively and efficiently. This is something they will do in close consultation with those who use their services, but as they accept accountability for the domain, they will be granted the scope to ‘make it their own’.

There will be change to resourcing levels through this redesign process. It is a necessity of the environment in which we are currently operating, to deliver the best outcomes for the university as a whole. Our capacity to innovate our professional domains over the next decade and beyond is as important as it is in research and education. The leaders of our professional domains now have that opportunity to create the future by designing their operations to achieve optimal results and ensuring the right people are in the right jobs.

This is an important time for UON’s professional workforce. Last year we thought about how we can create the future and were given permission to ‘think big, see opportunity, be open to new ideas and ask why’. We committed to ‘embracing change, adapting and responding together’ and to having the courage to be bold and act. Now is the time to table and discuss with your leaders those ideas of how things could be done differently.


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