LightbulbLast week, our section had an away day. For those who have not experienced one of these, it is an opportunity for a team / department / section to go off site and reflect on a specific topic. Be honest, how many of us know that when we’re in the thick of day to day work, sometimes the time for pondering and debating the bigger picture seems a luxury that can be ill afforded.

I am very aware of how valuable time spent this way can be. With one ‘hat’ on, it is part of my job to think about ways to make time for this type of activity, for my team. I also facilitate learning events and the pondering of concepts is at the heart of development activity.

Even though this is true, as I walked up to the venue, I still had that flash of ‘there’s so much I could be doing today’. I shushed that noisy cricket in my head up and got in the zone.

This was an opportunity, a luxury and for me a chance to be a participant instead of an organiser.

Being a participant requires a different ‘hat’ and an open mind! I like the challenge of going in to a situation that is the unknown and to which I need to relinquish some control (a change is as good as a rest!).

For one of the activities, we were given a topic to work on in diverse groups, not just in our everyday teams.

We were mixed up, moved around and had to comment on topics we did not have any prior knowledge about (what do I know about contracting?!) but amid the ideas, the noise, the queries, debate and laughs I had a re-affirmation – there is no such thing as a bad idea or a silly question.

The session generated a list of great ideas for me about ways we might improve our communication and our connectivity in our support of researchers. As posted by Kay on the 4th June, we are listening but maybe I had forgotten that there is a wealth of knowledge and ideas I could be listening to from within my wider team.

Perhaps you will be given the opportunity for ‘away’ or maybe you could create your own. Whatever form it takes, ‘researcher away day’, ‘departmental meeting’, ‘learning event’ or something else,
I recommend you embrace it as you never know what a difference it could make!