For instance: we now have two timetables: year long modules and single semester modules. They start at different times of the year and finish at different times of the year. Assessments differ too. The idea is that students (already reduced) workload is spread out more. The result is that they're always writing assignments and we're marking all the time we're teaching. The two systems have different teaching patterns, so it's hard to know from one week to the next what you're doing, where and when.
The real reasons are to cut down on contact time, staff and rooms. And it works: attendance is massively down.
Needless to say, the genius who thought this up departed shortly afterwards to spread the magic. So I read this article by Jonathan Wolff with a considerable degree of recognition.
Ignore everything. If it actually needs to be done you'll be reminded, and then do it immediately. But mostly, someone wants you to fill in a form because they have a form to fill in themselves, and by the time they have processed all the responses the person who ordered the whole thing has moved on, passed on, or forgotten.
Change is so important that a few years ago my university brought in a change management strategy. The main message was that before you change you must consult. Very good. And so, I asked, why wasn't I consulted on this policy? That held it up for a day or two. Not sure, though, that anyone has remembered to use it since.
Why do we have to keep changing? Obviously because we are not teaching properly. Or researching the right things. Or bringing in enough cash from business or alumni. Or embedding ourselves deeply enough into the community. Or exchanging knowledge with the right partners. Or having sufficient impact. Or widening participation. Or ensuring that every student has the right visa. By way of penance we need to run round and round with bits of paper in our hands, and then fire off lots of emails.
As a bit of proactive management, it seems to make financial sense. Except, as I noted at the time, this reasoning depends on the future resembling the past. Rather a rash assumption. It appears the coalition government has decided to withdraw all funding from most band C and D courses. Now, if the reason why band C received higher funding was that the courses are more expensive to teach, Middlesex made a spectacular miscalculation.
If the background environment keeps changing, you cannot predict the consequences of your actions. What looks like a smart move one year may leave you smarting the next. What do you do? Masterful inactivity, of course. It has two advantages. First, it doesn't waste your time. Second, if you cannot sensibly plan on other grounds, you should at least make sure that what you do is sound in intellectual, scholarly and pedagogical terms.I really need to send this to all my managers.