“A brilliant team who collaborate to deliver innovative discovery cancer science and patient benefit.”

This is the refreshed sense of purpose that the Cancer Sciences Unit is bringing to life right now. This is the “Why”. The order of words is important, science in the 21st Century is about teams and collaboration. Making time to pay attention to how our teams work, individually and together, will be fundamental to our success. The “Why” is instructive to how we work. When we are making day-to-day decisions about where to invest our energies our purpose is the touch-stone. The “What” comes next? What indicators of success will we use to measure ourselves against? Divided into People, Collaborations, Markers of Esteem/Influence and Adoption into Practice, we have agreed strategic and operational deliverables for medium term assessment. Our education contribution is essential.

The What?

So far this might all sound a bit like corporate speak, but hopefully on closer scrutiny you will be able to see how the “Why” and “What” align with the University’s strategy and focus on developing people and the way that we work together.  Contained within, are the principles of high-performance working transferred directly from the world of sport psychology, with proven efficacy in business, the NHS and higher education.

We have been working with Dr Chris Shambrook from Planet K2, a psychologist with 22 years and 5 Olympic cycles of experience with GB Rowing (they have been fairly successful!), to understand the practicalities of bringing our purpose to life. This is determined by our “Habits of Success”, the things that we will do and say on a daily, weekly and monthly basis to develop a culture of continued improvement. This is fun. This is the “How”. It is simple but effective. It requires (some) time and commitment, but the challenge is to understand how good we can be within the conditions that we find ourselves. The risk of doing nothing is greater.

The How?

We have made a suit of performance improvement resources available for people to use and we are making extensive use of Microsoft Teams to communicate across the Cancer Sciences Unit. This is the fastest growing app in Microsoft history and enables secure messaging and file storage in an intuitive format familiar to users of WhatsApp and Twitter. It is available to all Faculty of Medicine staff via Office 365 and is fully supported by iSolutions, give it a try, you really might like it. It might even reduce your email inbox!

The proof of the pudding will be in the eating, will we deliver our Indicators of Success? Time will tell, but I will finish with a comment from a developing researcher: “There is a positive feeling in the unit. Academia can feel like a trial of patience and perseverance, without an obvious ending. It now feels like we are being lifted up to achieve our full potential rather than being held back”.

That sounds good to me.

“A refreshed sense of purpose” by Professor Tim Underwood

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