Universities are generally good at identifying who their stakeholders are and describing how they engage with them, but many stop short of articulating the value created for stakeholders by their activities.
At Newcastle University we set out our ‘value shared’ with different stakeholders as part of our annual Integrated Report. For example, we create value for current and future generations of students by reinvesting in our teaching and learning facilities – building networks with employers and attracting the best academic colleagues from across the world.
The value created can be is difficult to identify and measure, but I firmly believe that integrated thinking and reporting can help in telling our story in a meaningful way for stakeholders. This in turn can help to enhance the external perception of how universities operate and the value they create for different stakeholder groups.
Integrated reporting is also helping to promote a nuanced and engaged discussion about KPIs, challenging assumptions about what works and avoiding a narrow interpretation of metrics and reporting. This can help our broader academic community connect to and own the University’s overall vision and strategy.
Of course, integrated thinking and reporting won’t achieve all of the above benefits in isolation; it has to be part of a wider effort around organisational values and culture to ensure that the narratives we tell are real and meaningful for colleagues.
The annual integrated report is supporting the University to make more effective use of resources – particularly in projects that require join-up across different organisational units and cross-cutting issues such as environmental sustainability. It is helping us with life-cycle costings and the development of interdisciplinary approaches that bring together different parts of our organisation in pursuit of shared priorities.
In this way, I can see the development of new practices and processes that for me have been shaped by integrated thinking and reporting.