ICT Team Away Day - April 2009

Today has been a very busy day!  An early start saw me pulling together a variety of thoughts and pieces of information in preparation for the Higher Education Academy’s ICT team away day.  This was the first away day the team had ever had and there was certainly some apprehension as to how the day would pan out.

The aims of the day were two-fold.  In the first part the team was to engage in some tea building and learning activity based around supporting team planning exercises.  The second part was to put this into practice by planning out some upcoming work.

The day began with a nine thirty start at the Pavilion Hotel located in Fulford not far from the Academy’s York office where the ICT team are based.  The first task of the day as ever were some introductions and this was the first opportunity for the team to meet the consultants from Synergi who were to facilitate the day - Umran Amin and Ammaran Razaq.

After the introductions and a discussion around what people’s expectations for the day were out of the way the team got down to the business of getting to grips with a methodology developed by the prestigious Edward de Bono - The Six Thinking Hats.

This methodology categorises six different styles of thinking and provides a framework for sequentially applying the styles in a flexible way to allow people to pull towards a common goal in a common way that shifts and changes through the process to ensure an outcome is arrived at by the group.

For anyone who hasn’t come across the methodology, the hats are coloured and correspond to the following thinking styles:

  • Blue Hat - Management and process control.
  • White Hat - Data and facts focussed.
  • Green Hat - Creativity.
  • Red Hat - Instinct and gut feeling.
  • Yellow Hat - Positive aspects and benefits.
  • Black Hat - Potential pitfalls and negative aspects.

With an overview of the methodology the team set to using this to plan a significant piece of maintenance work. During May the team will be undertaking a piece of work over several days that will see a full reorganisation of the Academy York office’s server racks and the addressing of a number of bottle necks and issues that the team have identified.

The applicatin of the methodology first looked at how the work could be structured and from this each area was picked up in turn and explored using the same methodology to flesh out the plans.  The day rounded off at a little after five with a large amount of planning agreed and specified.

Hopefully the effort put into the day will reap the reward in the successful development and implementation of the final plan and we’ll be able to use the methodology for future team planning sessions.

Author: Stephen Millard
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