Closure: Closing one door, opening another

CRCA-2014-web-banner2Recently I attended the Cooperative Research Centres Association Conference (CRCA 2014). The theme of the event was Innovating with Asia. The key speakers provided a very interesting and thought provoking insight into the challenges and opportunities that exist in Asia in the future.

At the conference I was pleased to chair a breakfast session: The costs and issues involved with winding up a CRC. For those of you who do not know, the CRC program is an Australian Government initiative that supports industry led research partnerships between researchers, business and the community to: develop new technologies and products; create new markets and export opportunities; and build capability and capacity for industry through targeted education and training activities.

The discussions led me think about closure and the many forms it takes in both our professional and personal lives. From a relationship perspective closure might often be thought of as being a method of dealing with grief. However closure does differ in that it is a process of looking forward (rather than backwards), being able to tie up loose ends, and in a business sense, aligning initial aims and objectives with eventual outcomes and moving on.

One of the great examples outlined at the conference session relating to the wind up of one particular CRC, was the planning and delivery of a showcase event in the months preceding the eventual closure of the Centre. It was a public demonstration of the progress, highlights, discoveries and achievements of the Centre. What ordinarily would be included in a static final report or publication, this method of delivery put a very practical ‘live’ perspective on the transformation and evolution of the work of the research teams.

Importantly, the showcase also served as a key factor for staff retention, particularly as the Centre moved into its final year of existence. All staff were invested in the event and the process of its planning and delivery – they looked forward to sharing in the celebration and recognition of their success.

There are no doubt many ways of managing a process of closure. If we can reach a point of appreciation, I think we have gone a long way to experiencing and managing closure effectively.

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