Put your game face on, UC Davis, for 36 hours of online brainstorming! On Feb. 24 and 25, all of us — students, staff and faculty on the Davis and Sacramento campuses and beyond — will be asked to "Envision UC Davis," the UC Davis of 10, 20, 30, 40 years from now.
Then, on Feb. 29 (Leap Day), staff members will have the opportunity to brainstorm work process improvements, engage in team building, and position themselves and their departments to best serve the university. Staff Assembly is leading this exercise, called “Reimagining Our Work,” or ROW.
What a February we have in store: two exercises to strengthen UC Davis now and in the future.
Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi is putting forth the visioning game to help UC Davis along the path to becoming the University of the 21st Century. She supports Staff Assembly’s “Reimagining Our Work” for the same reason, because ROW will assist UC Davis in creating an outline for a model workplace for the University of the 21st Century.
Here’s more about each exercise, and we’ll be following up as they draw closer:
'Envision UC Davis'
Visioning is serious business. But we’re making it a game with points and a time limit, encouraging people to engage in rapid-fire discussion — sort of like playing in a "massively multiplayer online game" with thousands of "your closest friends." You can play on your smartphones and tablets, latops and destop computers. You can contribute in as little as five minutes — although we hope you’ll stick around longer.
Throw out your ideas, comment on other people’s ideas, build on ideas, refine them — all in Twitter-like fashion, 140 characters or less.
“Push yourself to think boldly, make the leader board,” the organizers said, referring to a listing of the game’s top-trending ideas. You can form teams and gather for group play — meet up, play the game on your mobile devices and talk among yourselves.
"Envision UC Davis," the single largest community outreach ever initiated at UC Davis, will be played from 11 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 24, to 11 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 25. Registration will open earlier than that; stay tuned to Dateline UC Davis for the URL. You’ll create a player profile and you’ll have a dashboard where you can see what other people are saying (and see how many points you have accumulated).
The game begins with a video scenario: a peek into a possible future for UC Davis. This video is designed to be provocative, inviting players to think about how the world is changing and how those changes might change opportunities for themselves and for UC Davis.
The nonprofit Institute for the Future is helping us with this exercise, known as a Foresight Engine game. UC San Francisco played the game in 2014, and UC Davis will be the first primarily undergraduate institution to do so.
“All you need is a cellphone or a computer connection to become part of the conversation about our future,” Chancellor Katehi wrote in her January message to the campus community.
“We are hoping that some outstanding ideas will be generated by players who are actively thinking about what UC Davis should become over the next several decades and beyond," the chancellor wrote.
The Institute for the Future will provide gamemasters to scan the fast flow of ideas, looking for and synthesizing key themes that push the boundaries of today and stretch into the next decade and beyond. Highlights will be featured on the game blog so you can quickly see which ideas are rising to the top.
Then, when the game is over, the institute will analyze the content and share back key themes as well as outlier thinking.
'Reimagining Our Work'
The idea for this exercise emerged over breakfast one day at the Chancellor’s Residence, during Breakfast with the Chancellor, a monthly program organized by Staff Assembly on the Davis campus.
“We heard from staff about their heavy workload and inefficient processes, and that they didn’t have time to review and improve those processes, that they didn’t even have enough time to organize their work spaces, or for team building that could foster more collegial relationships,” said Jessica Potts, Staff Assembly chair.
“Basically, they needed time to breathe.”
That time is coming: Monday, Feb. 29 — an "extra day" just for us! Every department and unit decides for itself how to spend that day. You need not spend the whole day on this activity, and your unit might even want to pick a different day.
“ROW is meant to provide staff with an opportunity to envision the future of their workplace,” Potts said. “ROW can be used to build partnerships and strengthen teams, or for staff development, and generally give staff a day of more autonomy over their workload.”
Chancellor Katehi, in her monthly message to the campus, said she sees ROW as a means for creating a more efficient and inclusive environment for staff and supervisors. “ROW Day will provide UC Davis staff with an opportunity to put forward their ideas on how to make our day-to-day work experience as rewarding as possible,” she said.
The ROW website includes suggestions on “how to make this day a success in your unit,” and a number of tools, including:
- Ideas for team building activities
- Conversation starters for brainstorming
- Sample agenda for a process improvement staff meeting
- Sample agenda for a ROW Day team event
- Sample email announcement
- ROW Day flier (for downloading)