A University’s Director of Corporate Communications commissioned an inquiry for approx. 40 staff of the Corporate Communications and Recruitment & Admissions directorates and representatives from each of the University’s Academic Schools to promote greater understanding, appreciation and cohesion between the directorates and the schools in order to communicate a stronger brand, and work towards a “more integrated and synergistic professional service” in marketing the brand in overseas and domestic markets.
The solution constraints:
- External influences and issues include increasing competition in overseas markets, the increasing need for web-based marketing and social networking, and cuts in UK public funding.
- Internal influences and issues relate to previous management structures that did not encourage collaboration between the directorates and the schools, reinforced by silo working and accountability.
The inquiry began with each functional section considering their own practice in terms of:
- What they are most proud of, and why
- What they think may be misunderstood by the other sections
- What they appreciate about the work of the other sections
- What they think the other sections appreciate about the work of their section
Each section discussed these topics and fed back bulletpoint summaries of their discussions to the plenary group.
The group then heard overview presentations on the significant external and internal influences and issues affecting the brand and its successful marketing from the Directors of Recruitment & Admissions and Corporate Communications (the University’s sales and marketing functions) before discussing in section groups:
- What needs to change within your section?
- What needs to change within other sections?
Again, participants fed back a summary of their discussions to the plenary group, which then clustered change topics in common for two rounds of Open Space dialogue across all three sections on the agreed strategic priorities for change:
- Cross-functional communication
- Better integrated working
- Sales & Marketing input to strategic planning
- From information to knowledge
- Working towards a project approach to selling and marketing Academic Schools
- Evaluation of sales and marketing spend
- Web ways forward
- Committee responsibilities and service level agreements
- Whole-business culture
The workshop concluded its inquiry process with discussions on what each section is motivated to do differently in terms of:
- Changes to performance or behaviours within each section
- The indicators of progress and success
- The resources and support needed from the other sections
- The resources and support offered to the other sections.
Finally, the Director of Corporate Communications, as the inquiry sponsor, reported on how the findings will be taken forward by the University’s internal OD team.