Posted 26/08/2022 by: Professor David Lloyd

The first daffodils of spring are emerging (which I admit still messes with my northern hemisphere brain, 10 years later) and apparently the sun will shine this coming weekend, bringing with it double digit temperature figures beginning with a '2'. Huzzah! We are emerging from our winter of discontent. I've never encountered so many staff and peers who are feeling physically and emotionally tired as I have in recent weeks. The fact that I’ve come back after my longest ever period of rec leave may exacerbate things slightly. I’ll just say one thing – if you’ve got leave banked but unbooked, or you’re eligible for long service leave, or you haven’t taken your wellness days – use them! That’s what they’re for. Life’s too short. Having a break, physically and mentally recharging, reconnecting with family, self and place – these are so valuable. And guess what? The world keeps turning while you’re away, while pretty much nothing is more important than your own well-being. So, if you can, give yourself a break. You deserve it.

Coming back to the office with a bump is always an interesting transition. I was tempted to blame my sluggish week one performance on some manifestation of long Covid, but, in all honesty it was simply the impact of jumping back on the treadmill. A treadmill running at warp factor 9. It did make me wonder, though – how many of the things that cause this relentless momentum and which we are occupying ourselves with are important? How many of these energy demanding tasks are rods we have made for our own back? Undertaking far too many initiatives articulated in well intended local area plans but which, if you stood back and looked critically, you might say aren’t all really moving the dial significantly when held up against our core mission and activities. We often talk about the return on investment in our undertakings – perhaps we could start thinking about the value side of the equation as well. Are the myriad tasks aligned to a value-add perspective? Is the process I’m working my way through efficient? Could it be improved? Simplified? Done away with? Is it really necessary?

Before you run out and burn the procedures manuals, please note, I’m not seeking to start a revolution here. I’m just suggesting that we all do certain things the way we do them because that’s how they’re done. And increasingly we take on the doing of more and new things without jettisoning the old. That’s also come up in feedback from the focus groups we’ve been running to look at the outcomes from our culture survey. Stopping doing things can create value and have a huge return on investment too. Freeing you up to deliver against priorities, not a performance indicator. It can come from thinking about processes through a lens of simplification.

There’s a great question I use in staff 360 evaluations - What are you currently doing well, but is adding no value to you making a difference and adding value to UniSA? Think about that for a moment. What are you doing well, but is not adding value? This is where we can apply our minds to calling out the pain points. Not as a whinge, but constructively, in an attempt to apply some analgesic – and so make things better and to add value.

Many, many moons ago, long before you were born, when computers were huge and had names like ‘HAL’.... Well not really. Nine and a half years ago to be precise. We had a whole of university conversation. It was pretty cool. Mostly because no-one had ever done it before in a university setting. So UniSA did. And the jam became legend – oft emulated but never bettered. One of the tiny things that came from unijam was the simple – and I do like simple – idea to create ‘a suggestion box’. It still exists – I went looking for it as I began to type this blog – but I had to look pretty hard to find it.*

One incarnation of it lives in the ‘feedback & complaints’ space of the myunisa online student portal – where students are told ‘If you feel that an idea will make your time at the University better, send it through the Suggestion Box to the Vice Chancellor’

But that wasn’t the original intent. It was meant to solicit good ideas from everyone – ideas where we could improve what we do and add value.

I dug a little deeper and I found a link to the original, buried in the text of a UniSA News article from 2014 – a little blue hyperlink to the suggestion box

(the url is

It’s so quaint! But it still works. You stick an idea in there and it pops up in my office. And we take a look and share it more widely – and if it can add value, we work to make it a reality. If it’s daft, we politely let you know that too. It’s not attached to a vacuum. It’s welcomed and its important.

So, my revolutionary call to arms starts with a modification of the earlier question - What are you currently doing well, but is adding no value to you making a difference and adding value to UniSA? What ought you be doing instead?

They used to say ‘answers on a postcard’ back in the day when people knew how to use pens and attach stamps to pieces of paper to convey information to one another. And you’d have to wait at least a week for a response. An altogether simpler time.

Nowadays, with astounding technological advances, you can just click on the suggestion box

Have a think.

*yes, I know, I know, its on the bottom of the myunisa staff page too – down beside the Cricos provider number… I was told that after I complained that I couldn’t find it using search….

Professor David Lloyd

Through The Big Picture, I hope that our whole community gains a greater and current appreciation of what is going on, how it fits together and how our activities connect and reinforce each other at a whole of enterprise level.


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