Posts Tagged: Workgroups
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
Being able to connect is key to the success we in UC ANR enjoy in developing and providing solutions to help the people of California.
Please provide your input (see #3 under "Where are we?) to see how we might do this even better.
A summer survey to program team leaders and workgroup chairs asked for input on how we currently connect (and our current structure).
The three main findings were:
- Our current structure [roles of Workgroups (WG), Program Teams (PT) and Strategic Initiatives (SIs)] is - shall we say - somewhat “fuzzy.”
- Even with the lack of clarity on WG, PT and SI functions, people greatly value the opportunities to engage and interact.
- There is a desire to identify which of our (80+) workgroups are active and still needed.
Where are we? What are the actions in play?
- Workgroups: Frequently Asked Questions” A fact sheet on our structure was developed to help clarify roles – your feedback is welcome.
- Identify active Workgroups. This week, we are doing a follow up survey with WG chairs to seek input on the level of WG activity and connections.
- Your input welcome. We welcome your input through this simple survey - 5-10 minutes can help us all move forward. Please complete the survey https://ucanr.edu/survey/survey.cfm?surveynumber=26325 by Jan. 4.
What's next? After receiving input from you and the workgroup chairs, we will revisit our structure (program teams, etc.) and see how we can better connect.
Thanks for your efforts to help us positively impact the lives of all Californians.
To get acquainted with the people at each ANR location, Mark Lagrimini, vice provost of research and extension, has been visiting research and extension centers and UCCE county offices and touring the facilities.
“I'm impressed with how passionate and dedicated you are to helping people,” said Lagrimini to UCCE Contra Costa staff after listening to their project updates. He has been impressed with the work he has seen at all of his ANR visits.
On Sept. 6, Lagrimini visited Hopland Research and Extension Center, three weeks after the River Fire consumed about two-thirds of its property.
“While the River Fire damaged parts of the center, none of the main buildings, residences, livestock nor staff were hurt by the fire,” said John Bailey, Hopland REC interim director.
Scientists are invited to a site tour on Oct. 19 to learn more about research opportunities at Hopland REC.
“With Hopland REC's extensive pre-fire historical data, plus immediate post-fire, pre-rain observations that we are collecting, we have the foundation to support relevant and timely research on the effects of fire and mechanisms of recovery,” Bailey said.
AVP Wendy Powers and Mark Bell, vice provost of Strategic Initiatives and Statewide Programs, are joining Lagrimini for many of the visits to learn the latest about UCCE research and outreach and to answer questions from staff.
On Sept. 11, Rob Bennaton, UCCE director in Alameda and Contra Costa counties, introduced Powers, Lagrimini and Bell to UCCE staff in their Hayward offices, then took them to West Oakland to tour City Slicker Farms. UCCE Master Gardeners and 4-H members partner with City Slicker Farms, teaching people how to grow food at the site.
“Success to us is putting food where people need it and giving them the skills to grow food,” said Rodney Spencer, executive director of City Slicker Farms.
In Concord, Marisa Neelon, UCCE nutrition, family and consumer sciences advisor in Contra Costa County, gave Powers, Lagrimini and Bell a tour of the new office space, which includes space for Master Garden volunteers, a kitchen for nutrition educators to prepare food and a lab for farm and IPM advisors to store and analyze samples.
Staff from each unit delivered a presentation about their current projects for the ANR leaders, who were joined by Humberto Izquierdo, agricultural commissioner for Contra Costa County and Matthew Slattengren, assistant agricultural commissioner.
Charles Go, 4-H youth advisor, and Adan Osoria, EFNEP community nutrition educator, described how 4-H and EFNEP teamed up for 4-H2O, an after school project aimed at reducing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and increasing water consumption to improve community health and wellness. They launched 4-H2O at John Swett High School in Crockett. At the request of 4-H members, the local school board approved hydration stations and instructed the schools to provide water at meal times, Go said.
Andrew Sutherland, Bay Area urban IPM advisor, described his research on baiting for cockroaches, subterranean termites and yellowjackets and outreach to educate pest control professionals to practice IPM in schools and multi-unit housing.
“I appreciate the work Andrew does,” said Izquierdo, noting that there is a need for pest management education, especially among the county's urban and immigrant populations.
After seeing all of the presentations, Bell said, “The enthusiasm you bring to your job is inspiring.”
After the visit, Powers wrote in her ANR Adventures blog on Sept. 14: “The programs we've seen in Contra Costa and Alameda Counties this week as well as Santa Clara County a couple weeks back are good reminders of the benefits to all of UC ANR when we have strong, relevant programs in urban areas. These programs not only help the clientele, directly, but help increase the visibility of UC ANR and all of its programs across both urban and ag areas.”
On Sept. 26, Powers, Lagrimini and Bell visited UCCE Riverside, then UCCE San Bernardino the following day.
“We spent yesterday in Riverside meeting with the teams from both UCCE Riverside and UCCE San Bernardino,” Powers wrote in ANR Adventures on Sept. 27. “It was very informative, particularly seeing the fresh ideas that are coming from some of the new staff. We were able to hear about the tremendous success that both counties are having truly working as a team across program areas and layering their efforts for increased program success and support.”
Each spring, the UC ANR Office of Program Planning and Evaluation (PPE) compiles and submits a report to our federal funding partner, USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). In August, NIFA approved UC ANR's 2017 report.
A snapshot of the 2017 UC ANR Federal Report is available at the following link: https://ucanr.edu/sites/anrstaff/Divisionwide_Planning. The snapshot highlights several dozen examples of research and extension occurring in each Strategic Initiative and in the field of sustainable energy. The Federal Report Snapshot can be shared with stakeholders and potential donors to help them better understand the breadth of projects and range of impacts that occur throughout ANR in a given year.
The full report that was submitted to NIFA captures the annual activities, outputs, and outcomes that occur throughout ANR as a result of NIFA funding on campuses, in counties and at the research and extension centers.
Information for the report comes from submissions entered in REEport, DANRIS-X (now replaced by Project Board for FY 2018 and on), and UC Delivers. Content experts identify the most significant research highlights and write the program area narrative summaries. This year we want to thank Chris Greer, Cheryl Wilen, Keith Nathaniel, John Harper, Doug Parker and Jeff Dahlberg. Because the report is thorough and lengthy, PPE has created this condensed snapshot, which is drafted with input from Communications Services.
Both the snapshot and full report are available at https://ucanr.edu/sites/anrstaff/Divisionwide_Planning.
Project Board is a new online system that integrates ANR academic program review, civil rights compliance, and accountability reporting requirements. It also has search features that may facilitate collaboration and support advocacy efforts. Project Board launched on May 3, 2018, for academics who have ANR merit + promotion, and on July 31, 2018, for CE specialists whose merit + promotion packages are processed by a campus.
Project Board will be searchable by keyword by all ANR staff and academics to find projects. Only CE academics are required to enter information into the system. New features, bug fixes and help text are being continuously rolled out. Project Board works best on Firefox and Chrome web browsers.
Reporting for the federal fiscal year that began Oct. 1, 2017, and ends Sept. 30, 2018, is required in Project Board for all Cooperative Extension academics. Training information and technical assistance Zoom hours can be found on this webpage. DANRIS-X is closed for data entry but will remain open for retrievals and reports.
For more information:
- Visit Project Board Help: http://ucanr.edu/sites/ProjectBoardHelp/
- Academic Human Resources questions, contact Kim Ingram at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Civil Rights Compliance/Affirmative Action questions, contact David White at email@example.com
- General Project Board and Program Planning and Evaluation questions, contact Kit Alviz at firstname.lastname@example.org or Chris Hanson at Christopher.email@example.com