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The Project Establishment Guide: introducing a proactive guide to establish sustainable cross institutional learning and teaching projects

Wednesday 3 July: Conference day one, 11:30am – 12:00pm parallel session



Room 6 – 303-B05 Sem



Professor Jill Lawrence
University of Southern Queensland, Australia

Felicity Lawrence
University of Auckland, New Zealand



Taking strategic contexts into account is critical to the success of higher education learning and teaching projects. Many projects are established with only a cursory look at the strategic priorities they need to deliver, neglecting to unpack the team’s assumptions and expectations and consider how these impact on project planning and execution. Projects can be initiated in isolation, replicating previous or concurrent projects, sequestered from strategic initiatives or operational management, or generated without key stakeholder consultation. The Project Establishment Guide (PEG) is designed to support project teams ensure their projects are strategically planned, operationally embedded and sustainable. The initiative draws on three discipline perspectives: the Johari Window from psychological theory (Luft, 1984), the Cynefin Framework from organisational leadership (Snowden & Boone, 2007), and the Impact Management Planning and Evaluation Ladder from education development (Hinton, 2014). These perspectives were selected as they promote a wider canvassing of all potential, but possibly unknown, sources of knowledge and influence and allow us to test assumptions made about the project (the Johari window) and encourage teams to see things from new viewpoints, assimilate complex concepts and address real-world problems and opportunities as well as revaluate a project’s initially simple, but potentially multidimensional complexity (Cynefin). The Impact Ladder can reveal a cogent frame for funding agencies to enunciate their expectations, make decisions and evaluate their efficacy in facilitating strategic educational change at all possible levels of impact. PEG incorporates five phases, each phase accompanied by critical questions. These questions assist project teams to think through the decisions they need to make in planning their projects. They are not meant to be definitively answered but rather support teams to reveal hidden assumptions that may otherwise dilute the project’s impact. To investigate PEG’s appropriateness, a case study approach was implemented at both the University of Southern Queensland (Australia) and the University of Auckland (New Zealand). A participatory action research methodology was deployed in the reflective evaluation stages where Project staff considered questions such as: what were the intended results (what was planned); how did the PEG assist in considering aspects of planning that might otherwise have been neglected (what did it reveal); and what were the results (what really happened). Initial findings suggest that while the PEG constitutes an important tool enabling teams to interrogate their assumptions about their project’s strategic and operational contexts, it also needs to be fine-tuned before it can be incorporated as a standard approach for establishing informed, strategically aligned and embedded projects that are sustainable and maintained into the future.



Hinton, T. (2016). The Impact Management Planning and Evaluation Ladder (IMPEL). The Office for Learning and Teaching, Retrieved from documents /impactmanagementplanningandevaluationladderimpel
Lawson, E. & Price, C. (2003). The psychology of change management. McKinsey Quarterly, (2) 30-41
Luft, J. (1984). Group Processes: An Introduction to Group Dynamics. 3rd edn, Mayfield: McGraw-Hill.
Snowden, D. J. & Boone, M. E. (2007). A Leader’s Framework for Decision Making. Harvard Business Review, 85(11) 68-76


Presentation topic

Tertiary – Governance and Management

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