In this chapter, the authors take a soft-systems methodology (SSM) (Checkland & Poulter, 2006) approach to problematising the role of programme leadership and developing with the learning community far-reaching solutions for effective programme leadership at a UK University. An appreciative inquiry (Cooperrider, 2017) allowed programme leaders (PLs) to describe many aspects of the role they felt worked well and a series of common concerns: clarity about expectations, responsibilities and workload allocations, and anxiety about effective prioritisation of tasks. Senior managers identified the issue of workload allocation challenging, and wanted to have more clarity about setting targets for various kinds for programmes, and identifying links between key performance indicators for programmes and actions taken by PLs.
The authors, both educational developers, used data from their investigation to design a series of resources and activities to improve clarity around PL roles and expectations. At the same time, the university started to improve the reporting of key programme data and instituted a system for annual review. The chapter reports on these parallel activities, describes the challenges and makes proposals for carrying out similar work elsewhere and future developments. Mkonto assesses the value of this approach to other HEIs and HE cultures with specific focus on their South African context.