Round 2: no decision; you must wait

We were expecting a decision about the restructure proposal for UCL Culture today (20 March 2018). The email below was circulated to the unit’s staff yesterday at close of business. It is presented here in full.

In sum: no decision, a plan to “seek to issue a full response” in the week after 30 April.

I want to think about this a bit more before a more substantial reply. Here’s my gut reaction.

First, this reply shows someone still doesn’t get it, failing essentials of public engagement 101. There was no meaningful engagement in the preparation this proposal. Consider use of the phrase “informed and supplied” in this email. Consultation means talking with, not talking to. This email works to create a fiction of involvement in an attempt to hide the fact no meaningful consultation took place. Don’t be fooled. It’s a smokescreen for imposing a prefabricated plan.

Second, was there really a balanced set of comments? I saw 260+ letters asking for the proposal to be rejected: some for single reasons; some for many and detailed reasons. I saw them come from UCL departments and UCL academics, staff in UCL culture, and friends of the museums. Add to these, criticisms came from museum professionals, conservation specialists, and world-class teachers. I didn’t see everything submitted, to be sure. But I challenge the claim made here that replies add up to a rough balance: some of this, and some of that. I don’t believe it. I’d like to see 260+ or 200+ or 150+, or, even 50+ letters of comparable quality in favour of this proposal. More smokescreen.

Overall, I think the proposed restructure is a car crash. I think the community’s massive disapproval is telling. I worry this delay is an attempt to buy time to rescue the plan, or to do more. Meanwhile, people “at risk of redundancy” must endure more waiting owing to management delays. I fear it’s all too easy to become so invested in a plan you’ve spent a year developing on your own that it becomes impossible to see the blinding reality that it’s a failure. ‘Being too invested’ is a terrible reason to keep a failed plan going.




From: “Cane, Simon” <>

Date: 19/03/2018 16:34 (GMT+00:00)

To: [removed] 

Cc: [removed]

Subject: Service Redesign Consultation: Update

Dear Colleagues

Firstly we want to thank you all for the time and effort you have put into providing such a detailed response to the reorganisation proposal.  We have received responses from over 90% of UCL Culture staff and many responses from UCL staff and others.

We launched the formal UCL Culture staff consultation on the proposal for the reorganisation of UCL Culture on 13th February, 2018 and concluded consultation on 13th March, 2018.  The consultation process was governed by UCL’s Organisational Change Procedure.  All affected staff were supplied with the business case, organisational charts, job descriptions and person specifications and invited to provide feedback, ask questions and make suggestions/alternate proposals.  Additionally all members of UCL Senior Management Team that includes the Provost, Vice Provosts, Deans and Directors of Professional Services were informed and supplied with a summary of the proposal. Members of the Culture Heritage and Museums Committee (CHMC), chaired by Vice Provost (Research) Prof David Price, with membership including academics from across UCL, were also informed and supplied with a summary of the proposal. In addition Simon met members of CHMC as well as [name deleted] and Joe Cain to discuss the proposal.

We have received a wide range of feedback covering all aspects of the proposal.  This feedback has highlighted strengths and weaknesses in the proposed structure as we had anticipated.  Some responses have been very specific and pertain to technical aspects of roles, others have been more general.  Some responses support the need for change while others refute it.  We have had feedback that offers conflicting views on the deployment of staff and physical resources and we feel it is essential to take the time to consider these viewpoints and develop a response that allows the entire department to deliver UCL’s mission.

The original timetable suggested that we would respond in the week commencing 19th March. However, the quantity and quality of the feedback is such that we need to take more time to ensure that we fully capture, understand and respond appropriately.  We will therefore seek to issue a full response to the consultation to all UCL Culture staff in the week commencing 30thApril.  We recognise that this will extend the period of uncertainty but hope that you will appreciate that this is necessary to ensure that full consideration can be given to the feedback we have received.

We are grateful that you have all continued to work professionally and deliver business as usual during this time of change.

Kind regards

Simon, Laura, Sophie, Frank and Tonya

UCL Culture Leadership Team