Education at Work

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No two jobs are the same; some examples may illustrate how we work.

A research centre asked us to review its strategy document, to which several members of the centre's senior management had contributed. We did so: we said that some sections should be reordered, some material should be edited for clarity and a uniform style should be imposed throughout. The centre asked us to carry out the work; the whole job took just over two days. We attended no meetings and never met any of the Centre's management: all communication was by email.

A major bank wanted to develop a long course for one group of employees. Its own subject-experts were to write the course materials; we worked with them over twelve months, at about one week per month, to improve the materials. Apart from tidying up the English and the layout, our main role was to look for anything that might not be understood by non-experts, anything that might confuse, any contradictions between different sections of the final text and any opportunities for useful links between those sections.

A contractor asked us to read its tender for a multi-million-euro government contract. Apart from suggesting some minor improvements, we reckoned that the contractor had misinterpreted part of the tender requirements. After some discussion, our view was accepted; we redrafted and restructured the document and the contractor's tender succeeded.

An academic department had prepared a self-appraisal report as part of its university's quality review process. We were asked to read and comment on the report. We felt that it did not present a true picture of the department's status, for three reasons. First, the authors had stuck rigidly to the suggested headings, even where they were irrelevant or unimportant, and had omitted real issues that did not fit the headings. Second, they had written in bureaucratic language and an apologetic tone that was intended to cover the department's weaknesses — but that was much more effective at distracting attention from its very considerable strengths. Third, they had provided far too much factual material at the expense of the evaluation and appraisal that was required. We suggested, and assisted with, a major redrafting of the report; the external assessors commended the department's appraisal and supported its plans for building on its strengths and tackling its weaknesses.






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