A few weeks ago, I realised once again how valuable access the breadth of our operations and the presence in different parts of the Stockholm region is for KTH. I was also reminded of how important it is that we can reflect this diversity in our support services and adapt the support to the situation in order to further improve the conditions for KTH’s overall support services.
The reason was a visit from Denmark, including the Faroe Islands and Greenland – about ten university directors were on a study trip in Sweden. Head of Department Magnus Wiktorsson at Campus Södertälje, and Heads of Department Cecilia Williams and Peter Savolainen at SciLifeLab, kindly acted as our guides – a big thank you to them. It was of course hard not to be proud when the visitors expressed how impressed and inspired they were.
One question that was discussed was how education is dimensioned and located. There it can be stated that the Danish university and higher education system appears to be more closely controlled by political decisions than ours. In the Swedish system, the trust in the institutions of higher learning regarding educational planning and localization is relatively large when compared – which is something we must take advantage of and live up to.
The Danish visitors wondered, among other things, about questions such as the university’s connection to the labor market, how we work with partnerships and collaboration with companies and organizations, and how we link our educations to research with proximity to strong research environments.
We reasoned overall about common challenges in terms of support services, how to remove administrative obstacles to provide support for research and education in an optimal way. This type of exchange with colleagues is particularly rewarding when doing development work.
Now there are barely three months left until the support services are brought together in a joint and coordinated organization and there are constantly suggestions as to what we can do better together. Looking forward to a continued inspired autumn.
I will soon have met the vast majority of the people who will be part of the new joint Support Services (VS) from 1 January next year. The visits to the various departments of University Administration at the schools began in the spring and will be completed during the autumn. I have found this a hugely rewarding process.
Sometimes I meet one of the 1,100 or so VS employees in the lift, on the stairs or around campus. I genuinely appreciate the comments and opinions you share with me. The great commitment that exists in the organisation is a real source of inspiration for me, and I honestly believe this work we are all doing will benefit KTH’s development and competitiveness in both the short and long term.
One thing, among many, that has become increasingly clear during the process is the importance of meeting and getting to know the functions that will receive the support, and vice versa. It promotes an understanding of each other’s fields, while also boosting competence overall. Securing good, smoothly functioning contact interfaces between education, research and support services is absolutely crucial if we are to find efficient working methods that we all share.
During the autumn, we will be setting priorities and making various choices as to the way ahead, one result being that we’ll be delivering improvements as regards systems development and digital services.
As soon as we have established appropriate solutions, we will assign the necessary resources so we can implement and communicate them.
What’s happening in the autumn? This is a question I’ve often been asked by many of my soon-to-be colleagues recently, when I’ve been out and about meeting them – and that in itself has been hugely enjoyable and educational.
Following the President’s decision on the programme directive, we are now ready for the next step which will involve sorting and prioritising during the autumn. As well as the groundwork involved in revising and adapting the rules of procedure and delegation to the new organisation, we also need to start taking a closer look at the areas our audit has highlighted as needing particular attention.
Alongside all this, there are various changes that we’ll be starting on this autumn as well. There is no good reason to wait.
These may be areas where we can already see quick opportunities for development and streamlining, measures that will benefit us all.
Security is one area we’ll be addressing in the autumn, building an organisation that meets all of KTH’s security requirements. This is just one aspect of the merging of our support services, whereby joint and local support services will be more closely coordinated and made more efficient.
At the end of the year I’ll be making a decision on a three-year operational plan for support services, which will form the basis of ongoing efforts. The programme will be implemented by 30 September 2026 – just before KTH’s 200th anniversary.
But before we grab this autumn by the horns, I’d like to wish you all a great, relaxing summer break!
We are each other’s working environment. That may sound like a cliché, but it’s true, and always relevant. Not only when we interact and express ourselves, but perhaps primarily when we work together.
Both the physical and the psychosocial working environment are crucial in any process of change, however large or small.
The work is intensive at KTH to achieve joint and coordinated support services. Really thinking through risks and opportunities better ensures good results. Worry and a lack of clarity hinder engagement and the ability to look ahead, and also our capacity for change. So, the way I see it, dialogue and cooperation are key words and crucial ingredients at every level of the process – particularly with the central collaboration group and the schools’ equivalents.
The individual employee is the expert in his or her particular area. This makes it especially important to work actively to keep dialogues and discussions alive, and to share our respective everyday realities.
The development process that support services are currently undergoing will not affect everybody equally, or even perhaps at the same time.
This makes it particularly vital to share our thoughts and experiences. As far as I can see, the spirit at KTH is extremely positive, encouraging and helpful.
This bodes well for our ongoing work – working actively in cooperation is the way forward for the development of support services, and indeed for the working environment in general.
The key to fit and functioning support services at a university is the right person with the right skills doing the right thing at the right time to support education and research of high quality. Is it really that simple, or maybe that difficult more like?This is what I am going to discuss and air here every fortnight.
I am absolutely convinced in dialogue and communication as the path to change and development. This is often one of the success factors when you need to persuade organisations that movement is needed. Ideally, I would like to go round and talk to everyone at the schools, divisions and departments, but appreciate that this is not practical in such a large organisation as ours. Blogging can be one way of communicating, but in which case, it is just as important that you as readers use the comment field if we are to engage in a dialogue.
Everyone is welcome to add their input, thoughts and ideas and I will gratefully receive them all. In the blog, I will reflect on what is happening within support services, always in close consultation with education and research. The blog will be something of a shop window for issues such as taking stock of support services (this is being done right now), the digital work environment or how we can provide optimal research support.
However, I won’t simply be looking inwards, I also aim to talk about fascinating trends in support services in the outside world and where KTH stands in this competition.
Let’s catch up again soon.