A major factor in job satisfaction is the extent to which people feel part of a wider supportive community. Such connections have historically been offered in UC ANR through various means, including our structural units (i.e., our 81 workgroups, 21 program teams and 5 strategic initiatives).
Healthy organizations should regularly look at their structure. Important elements of structure include how the pieces fit together and how people may better connect to more effectively implement their work. In the summer of 2018, we began a series of discussions and surveys to revisit aspects of our structure.
Thank you to the 120-plus people who provided input on our structure and suggestions regarding how we may connect.
1. Clarity of purpose:
The seeming fuzziness of the roles and goals of our workgroups (WGs), program teams (PTs) and strategic initiatives (SIs) is not as great as people may think. Many consistent findings arose across the different structural groups. A summary of our findings follows.
Workgroups (our oldest unit of structure) are the most readily understood. They represent active “communities of practice” (that can come and go) and are the primary place where people plan and implement (noting that such groups are both formal and informal).
One point of interest is that people didn't realize they could close or start workgroups as needed.
Program teams bring together people (typically from different workgroups) who are working on related but distinctly different topics to network, share and learn.
One clear observation is that PTs vary considerably in terms of the diversity of WG representation (e.g., 1 PT has 12 WGs and a few PTs have just 1 WG).
SIs are our highest form of aggregation (and currently the one that enjoys the least clarity). They function to unify, communicate and advocate as the umbrellas for the work we do. The recent addition for the SIs is the development of the focal areas and grand challenges, providing the opportunity to see the unifying focus in our efforts.
For more information about how workgroups, program teams and strategic initiatives fit together, see https://ucanr.edu/sites/StrategicInitiatives/files/295191.pdf.
2. Workgroups – Don't fix it if it ain't broken:
Of the 81 workgroups, 21 are considered very active and effective - while another 29 are somewhat active and 3 are new in 2019. The remaining 28 WGs have been inactive, as reflected by personnel or goal changes and will be officially closed (see list below). These can be easily reopened if demand arises.
The goal is for WGs to align with a single PT, which likely means realigning the PTs - see point No. 3 below. Currently some workgroups have no PT, whereas other WGs have aligned with many PTs.
3. Reformulate the topic areas for program teams:
The next step is to collect input and look at reformulating/reaffirming the PT themes. Currently, we have 21 PT themes. Some have no WGs under them. Others have many WGs under them. Some workgroups have aligned under many PTs, which creates uneven structure and at times uneven activity.
As we go forward, we encourage people to identify PT themes to 1) better represent the collective work of UC ANR, 2) create or show clearer paths for people to connect at the WG, PT and SI levels, and 3) help us refine the SI focal areas and grand challenges – providing greater clarity of our efforts and clearer SI alignment with the reformulated PT themes and WG efforts.
Opportunity for more input on PT themes
The PT discussions will include a webinar and county visits over summer.
Thank you all for your efforts and we welcome input.
Mark Bell (Vice Provost Strategic Initiatives and Statewide Programs)
Strategic Initiative Leaders
HFC: Lynn Schmitt-McQuitty
SFS: Deanne Meyer and Neil McRoberts
Water: David Lewis
SNE: David Lile
Pests: Jim Farrar
Workgroups to close. Note: If there is interest and leadership, workgroups can be readily opened by this simple new workgroup request.
1. Air Quality
2. Animals in Educational Settings
4. Body Weight and Health
5. Building Food Security
6. Conservation Biology
7. Dairy Goats
8. Ecological Restoration
9. Economics and Management in Food, Agriculture, Natural Resources and the Environment
10. Environmental Observation Network
11. European Pear
12. Exotic Fruit Fly
13. Garden-based Learning
14. Health Promotion & Disease Prevention
15. Mosquito Research and Extension
16. Pest Management in ANR
17. Postharvest Integrated Pest Management
18. Rangeland Watershed Program
20. Urban Horticulture
21. Water Quality
22. Woody Biomass Utilization
23. Families with Young Children
24. Food Safety Horticultural Crops
25. Land Use
26. Linking Research & Education in Agricultural & Environmental Biotechnology
28. Spray Application Technology