By: Sara Shinton, Katie Nicoll Baines & Cheryl Hewer

We’re looking forward to joining you for the UKRI’s FLF Annual Conference in a few weeks and hope that many of you will opt to attend our session on Embedding Diversity in Inclusive Research and Innovation Design. The aim of the session is to explore what inclusive research is and understand what you need to inform the development of the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)/FLFDN Roundtable on Thursday 25th November and ensure that you have the right support to fully engage.

Inclusive Research and Innovation Design is at the heart of UKRI’s vision, which sets out an ambition for a research and innovation system in the UK that gives everyone the opportunity to contribute and to benefit. For this to happen, we need to create inclusive and safe environments where the quality and integrity of research and innovation is not compromised. Research benefits from involving people from outside the research community in a process of shared learning and discovery. This may happen in a variety of ways – co-production, collaboration or participant and public involvement. But the evidence[1] is overwhelming in that a diversity of people, ideas and knowledge enables a healthier culture, which in turn can result in research and innovation that has the widest benefit. When research and innovation is truly reflective of the diversity of the population as a whole, the credibility and relevance of that research and innovation is enhanced for all.

Some of you will already be familiar that this is part of a global movement particularly noting the introduction of Gender Equality Statement that forms part of applications for International Development Funding. (Whatever your level of familiarity, you might find the Gender Sensitive Research toolkit from Gender.Ed, an interdisciplinary hub focused on gender and sexuality studies, useful).

Additionally, teams focus on different aspects, including across UKRI where we are starting to pilot and embed diversity in research and innovation for example, through including equality questions in the application process for Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTPs) and Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs) and other large programmes. However, we want to explore embedding diversity in all aspects of research and innovation and what this means at each stage, right from the early concept of ideas to who is able to participate, and who benefits (see diagram below).To embed EDI principles, all aspects of research and innovation must be inclusive. From its concept and planning, to the design of the questions, value and participation of people, to fundamentally thinking about the data, literature and methods. We would encourage early thinking – is it inclusive? Does it consider who may be impacted? Will it be representative of all parts of society or am I limiting who can participate and benefit? This also extends to considering the composition of the research team – is it diverse and does it represent the people in which should benefit from its impacts? Would you know how to start a conversation or how to navigate potential biases? These questions may at first be quite daunting or for some disciplines, feel irrelevant altogether. However, this is not about being proscriptive, we want to work with the FLF+ community as a key co-design partner in this work to ensure this feels relevant and generative.

Building on the work internationally through the Gender Equality Statements, there is a need to continuously build practical tools and experiment with this in practice. We have created an opportunity to explore and discuss how we can better support you and embed inclusive research and innovation design, as well as understand what this means to you and your work. We are therefore inviting you as our future leaders, to help shape this next phase of work and help conceptualise and shape what good inclusive design might look like.

We hope that you will want to learn more about Embedding Diversity in Inclusive Research and Innovation Design, particularly if you have never considered this in your own work and aren’t sure how it relates to you. To help as many FLFs as possible be fully involved in this process, we’re putting in place a short, flexible programme of webinars and drop-in sessions in the few next month to help you come to the roundtable with an understanding of the concepts and how they are applied.

Following the session at the UKRI FLF Annual Conference there will a drop-in coffee morning on October 28th at 10am. This will be an informal chance to learn more about UKRI’s plans and what’s ahead.

In November, we’ll be sharing a short series of webinars with researchers and innovations from a range of fields, talking about their inclusive design approaches and their impacts.

On November 25th from 10am – 1pm we’ll be running the Roundtable where you can help UKRI understand the support you will need and the contributions you can make to this process.

After the Roundtable, we expect some of you to want to continue your conversations and will support you in setting up a network to keep these going. We will also encourage you to think about using the Plus Funds to develop these ideas.

This partnership illustrates the distinctive approach of the FLFDN. In addition to the mentoring, training, coaching and individual support the network offers, we are working with partners in the research and innovation community to create opportunities for FLFs to shape our sector. The conversations with Cheryl and her team at UKRI are part of a wider set of discussions which are going to generate similar opportunities. If there are any opportunities you would like the network to explore and broker (with funders, industry, policy or other partners), just let Bridget know by emailing hello@flfdevnet.com

[1] Why diversity helps to produce stronger research (nature.com)

I’ve spoken and written about resilience a fair bit over the last few years, always with the proviso that I’m not enabling the poor behaviours or accepting structures that diminish resilience. I’m very aware of the backlash against “resilience training” as an alternative to addressing institutional problems. Having said that, I recognise two things – that some of our resilience challenges ARE about personal choices and habits and are possible to change, and that improvements to our research culture are happening slowly, so we have some responsibility to supporting people whilst this is happening. I rather hope that by helping people to be more resilient, they are actually more likely to engage in the process of change, but that may be naivety.

So, I’ve run a workshop on resilience, but with an added flavour of avoiding self-sabotage. If you weren’t able to join the workshop you’ll shortly find a full recording of the session posted on the FLF Development Network website.

Slides: Bridging 4 – Resilience and Self Sabotage

I referred to a number of resources that feature in all my resilience sessions:

A significant part of the session looked at resilience more generally, but in this blog I’ll focus on the new aspect of self-sabotage. This echoes an approach I’d taken in the Time Management session which I’ve recently run for FLF Dev Net. In this I talked about the process for forming new habits and making better decisions. A lot of self-sabotage-avoidance advice takes the same approach:

Recognising that self-sabotage is a result of fighting against a goal you had set yourself. Is there something about the goal that is wrong? Is there something about the way you’ve decided to achieve it that’s wrong?

Then you characterise the things you’ve done which have derailed the goal. I liked a term from the “Greater Good Magazine” blog on self sabotage which described these as ” seemingly irrelevant decisions”. My life is full of these and I usually don’t notice them, but starting to notice where my bad habits are rooted has helped me spot these “SIDs”.

Another blog from Entrepreneur Europe suggested the strategy of making small changes and steps. In most of my sessions which relate to behaviour change I talk about 5% improvements, often inspired by the great Twain quote:

(not this Twain quote, if you were wondering…)

I find it useful to share challenges and how I’m trying to address them, but am aware that it can be difficult to show this vulnerability and I might think twice if I was at an earlier stage in my career. Watching the Brené Brown TED talk on vulnerability and the longer Call to Courage show on Netflix has helped me with this. As a manager I would rather know about these challenges early so I can work with my colleagues to help them get through them. (In looking up the links for the Brené Brown videos I also found some short animations from the RSA on empathy and blame which are only a few minutes long…)

Finally, in the chat at the end of the session we explored some common triggers of dropping resilience and I wasn’t surprised to hear that the challenges of orientation to a new organisation (exasperated by lockdown) were a problem for many. I am thinking about how to support the FLF community with this and there are a range of resources already available online, such as these from the University of Edinburgh:

  • A guide for new researchers which was a side product of a project to explore resilience a few years ago
  • The virtual version of Edinburgh’s Get Connected event for new research staff
  • Most organisations will have induction information for staff. If you’re struggling to find yours it might be referred to as “on-boarding

As always in a session on resilience a lot of the value came from the attendees being open and honest about their challenges. They aren’t alone in finding things hard at the moment and neither are you. I hope the resources here help you to see that, then to start to build your own resilience plan.

This blog post is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution CC BY 3.0

This post supports a time management workshop for the UKRI Future Leader Fellows Development Network. A full recording of the workshop will be available to members of the network on our website, and you can review the slides here: Bridging 3 – Priorities and Time

I suspect many of those attending the workshop and reading this now will have already been on many time management workshops. I spent many years going to workshops and hoping for a magic wand to “fix” things before realising that any time management solution has to be tailored for the specific problem experienced by the individual. I also realised that some of my time management problems were a consequence of the behaviours and choices that made me successful.

A better approach is to recognise that there are at least three stages to improving your time management.

Investing time in REALLY understanding what choices you are making about how to spend your time and reflecting on what you can change and are willing to, and then which aspects of your time management problems are about your environment and people around you.

Looking at the various time management tips and advice and working out which are the best solutions for your situation

Working to embed these new approaches in your work habits

Number 3 is the toughest for me – my good intentions evaporate and I find myself back in overload. The session looks at all three aspects and shares a lot of tips from other researchers.

Supporting the session are a number of resources and recommended links:

Mapping your time:

I’ve posted a number of versions of time mapping sheets in other blogs on the topic of time management, productivity etc, so here’s a few options:

Basic TIME LOG
Time Logs with Happy or Sad column
Time management – about me or about others
Shape of day

And if you are concerned about things drifting and what to prioritise/who to ask for help:

Risk Register

If you want to have some structure to the suggested daily review:

Review of day

I’ve previously put all these thoughts into a time management guide which is openly available and includes a completed version of the “about me or about others” grid.

Ten Tips for Time Management: (you can see another session on these here):

  1. Prioritise important stuff
  2. Minimise distractions
  3. Create deadlines
  4. Improve environment
  5. Know your energy rhythm
  6. Minimise other people’s work
  7. Use margins of time
  8. Notice set backs to plans
  9. Manage demands from others
  10. Do it well enough

Embedding Better Habits

The final part of the session was about strategies to change habits and decision making about time for the better.

We talked about saying no to more offers and opportunities and I fawned slightly over a series of great blogs written by one of my Edinburgh colleagues, Professor Sue Fletcher-Watson:

The Year of Radical No’s
Reflecting on the Radical No 9 months in
Reporting on the “Yes’s” possible because of the Radical No
– and general thoughts on time management

We also talked about the concept of “triaging” offers and decisions, building on earlier sessions from my FLF network colleague Tracey. A dig around my uni blog uncovered a couple of posts on this theme which may be interesting – one on how to scrutinise your own decisions and another on how to ask busy people for help. If one of your issues is that people ask you for help that eats up too much time, then there might be some suggestions in the second blog which you could develop in gentle suggestions to help them and (mostly) you:

Do I really want to do this?
Buy-in from the Busy

Finally we had a few suggestions about the value of various books and resources:
Designing Your Life
Digital Minimisation or Deep Work (or anything by Cal Newport)
Do More Great Work (my suggestion – resources from the books used to be available online, but now seem to have been replaced by an online programme)

Finally I mentioned one of my favourite online resources from Judy Ringer.

We Have to Talk: A Step-By-Step Checklist for Difficult Conversations

Note that I’ve got this blog up quickly – it’s not perfect but hopefully more helpful that the alternative – it sitting on my to do list for a week and then falling off it…