This was what my Grandpapa said to me when I quit history at school in Year 8. Turns out he was right, but only a little right. History at school sucked, but history when exploring it off your own bat and with your own focus is, enlightening.
I had a meeting last week where I again sought a documented structure of some sort and I was told that structure wasn’t needed, but flexibility. I wasn’t well placed to have the discussion about how a good structure, thought through in line with business outcomes, and risk considerations actually provides more flexibility to an organisation not less. The reason it does this is because clarity of roles and responsibilities frees people from worry and provides them time to be creative and flexible in the work they do. Of course, I really wish I had said all that, but you know, life goes on.
How does this tie to history I hear you ask (well I don’t, but just go with it). Today I’m reading a document from 1957 and it states: “Such bewilderment and frustration is most harmful to the life and work of a university.” it goes on to discuss that the work of a university relies on the individual and if the individual is frustrated then there is no good work to be done. “If the staff are not full of life and determination in this way, nothing that the Senate of Vice-Chancellor can do will make the university work very much as a university.” These comments in the Murray Report relate to managing the balance in administration and academia.
So that’s how my meeting on Thursday links to history. It links because 57 years ago there was a review document that changed higher education legislation detailing the value of non-frustrated staff but here we are today, frustrated. Thanks Grandpapa, you were right, I should have stuck at history because it makes the joke funnier. After all if you don’t laugh….