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April 2016 Consulting Summit

April 2016 Consulting Summit

On April 7th, approximately 40 staff from over 15 departments convened at the Berkeley Institute for Data Science (BIDS) for the second Consulting Summit for individuals tasked with supporting research and pedagogy. The Summit provides an opportunity to meet colleagues from other areas of campus, discuss approaches and best practices, and form working groups that aim to address common needs and challenges.

While the last Consulting Summit was held in January 2015, an interim meeting in October 2015 allowed for the formation of an initial set of working groups that met periodically in preparation for the April 7 event. Two of these groups reported back to the larger community at length.

One working group, whose charter focused on cross-training and referrals, evolved over the course of six months into a cross-departmental community of practice. Members of this group visited each other’s spaces and deepened their understanding of how other organizations that provide consulting operate, which increased their ability to make constructive referrals to those other organizations. Group members sat in on one another’s consulting engagements, which at times evolved into co-consulting as the observing consultant contributed his or her perspective on the issues at hand. The group also developed a “taxonomy” that described common steps undertaken as part of consulting engagements. While the group’s membership represented a diverse set of campus organizations, the group encouraged all Consulting Summit attendees to respond to the taxonomy based on their own processes, using this shared Google Doc.

Another working group focused on emerging trends, and at the April 7 summit led an activity in which participants identified, shared, and aggregated trends observed in their own consulting engagements, providing an opportunity for dialogue with colleagues from other organizations. This working group will continue its activities over the next six months, furthering discussion of emerging trends and how our campus consulting community can best respond to them.

Lunch served as an opportunity for informal discussion and exchange between attendees, who then re-convened to brainstorm topics for working groups that would meet between April and the next summit, in October 2016. The brainstormed topics coalesced into three new groups focusing on the following:

  1. A “consulting portal” that aspires to aggregate information about consulting services and spaces, and how these resources might support researchers at specific points in research lifecycles
  2. Leveraging the expertise of faculty and students, to help people learn from their peers and develop communities of practice
  3. Assessment of consulting services -- both quantitative and qualitative -- with an emphasis on identifying effective ways for organizations to share their impact with campus leadership

After each new working group met to develop a preliminary charter and reported back about its plans, participants discussed the future of Consulting Summit events and strategies for bringing other consultants into the community (particularly isolated support staff from individual departments who could benefit from a stronger network of cross-campus connections). Participants also agreed that some work was needed to clarify the goal and intended audience of future Consulting Summits. In addition to events planned around emerging trends, and a presentation at the upcoming One IT Summit, there was also interest in holding at least one social event for campus consultants before October’s Consulting Summit.

To stay informed about upcoming events associated with the Consulting Summit, and opportunities for engaging with colleagues who support research and pedagogy, subscribe to the Consulting Summit mailing list.