TeamsBuildDreams on Tour: Science of Team Science Conference 2019

Group CHC Hub

Posted on the 24th July 2019

Part 1: Four Successful Abstracts for CHI and Professor Hooper: Our Nigel in Shining Armour

In 2018 the Connected Health Cities Hub team based at Centre for Health Informatics (CHI) operations leadership (Ruth Norris, Claire Smith and Amanda Lamb) travelled to Texas to present the impact of organically growing an evolving ‘team science’ model in national health informatics research at the “Science of Team Science Conference”. The team returned saying they had “found their people!” discovering a whole new scientific community and a global space for the theory and application of evidence-based methods of team science. The following months back in the UK saw their learnings and ideas disseminated widely, presenting to a range of audiences and networks (RPMN, One HealthTech) and delivering a workshop on Interdisciplinary Translation with invited facilitator, the international team Science thought-leader, Andi Hess, reaching delegates from across the university.

So it was building on this activity and filled with enthusiasm from the impact that SciTS 2018 had on Manchester, CHI decided to raise their game for the 2019 and resulted in FOUR abstracts accepted:

Building capacity and capability in GM through peer to peer support and development: the RPMN: Charlie Stockton Powdrell: “I decided to submit an abstract to the 2019 conference to help raise the profile of the work we do within the Research Programme Managers’ Network (RPMN).  Standing in my kitchen hovering over my laptop, I typed the first words that came to me and before I realised, the abstract had been written and submitted.  I wouldn’t usually endorse such a quick and impulsive approach to scientific writing, but on this occasion the passion took over and it worked!”

It’s not all fun and games: Building multiplayer worlds to explore, learn and expand: Ben Green: “My decision to submit came quite close to the submission deadline. I’d been toying with the idea but being in a non-academic role wasn’t convinced that I’d be considered, but my colleagues said “don’t self-select out, just give it a shot”.  My submission went in with about half-an-hour to spare and to my delight was selected. My session went down incredibly well, and was really fun to do! I am so pleased to the all the people that made this trip possible, not least of which are the folks who urged me into submitting”

How to design teams, space and careers for better team science: a practical guide Claire Smith: “After attending the conference in 2018, as part of our Investing in Success grant, I knew I had to return next year so I submitted a workshop abstract, along with my colleagues in CHI and MCRC, focused on creating the best environment to maximize team science – using a Harry Potter analogy of course! Chairing a panel session at an international conference was a first for me. It definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone: I learned so much and the response to the session was great!”

365: a year implementing a team science movement in a British university: Ruth Norris: “There’s so much the University can build on from the Team Science paradigm and I was super keen to keep the momentum and learning up by participating in SciTS again this year, giving an overview of how we have been driving the movement forward since our amazing experience last year.”

Buuuuut… the Investing in Success scheme did not run this year the team found themselves accepted FOUR times but WITHOUT any funding to attend. That is until Professor Nigel Hooper, Vice Dean for Research and Innovation, FBMH responded to the team’s business case and invested a small budget to support the 4 speakers to attend the conference.


Look, there it is!

art 2: And so to Lansing! (Where?)

Filled with excitement we set off for Lansing, Michigan on 18th May 2019, all ready to give a panel presentation with colleagues from the MCRC, and 3 oral presentations throughout the 4-day conference.

We had a very short connecting flight from Philadelphia to Detroit where we were rather unceremoniously ushered away from the transfer route between terminals via a huge multi-storey car-park by one of the airport staff to help us avoid missing our connecting flight.  Thankfully we made it with just minutes to spare and arrived safely in Lansing after a long trip. Lansing is a rather unusual place: like many state capitals its’ full of amazing government and federal buildings and interesting and historic, though very 9-5 focused with people communing out to suburbs every evening.  Indeed, in his opening conference address, the Mayor of Lansing shared his excitement about the plans to build the city centre’s FIRST grocery store!

After adjusting to our new time zone, Monday arrived and we met up with our friends and colleagues from the Manchester Cancer Research Centre (Pip Peakman, Sarah George, Rachel Chown) splitting up to attend a range of practical workshops for the morning and then preparing for our joint panel session that afternoon. It was brilliant to have such a diverse and supportive group representing Manchester and really putting our work on the international map.

The Manchester dream team: L-R back Ben Green, Charlie Stockton Powdrell, Claire Smith, Ruth Norris. Front L-R Sarah George, Pip Peakman, Rachel Chown)

Our panel used a Harry Potter theme for the talks and activity, which proved to be very popular and engaging with our audience. On a more serious note, we were able to share with our audience our approaches to building teams, creating appropriate work spaces for encouraging team science and ways in which we develop our teams.

Which Harry Potter house/RPMN framework category best describes you?

We were really pleased with the discussions and conversations which our talks and group activity generated…and that’s when Team Manchester began to have an impact on the whole conference…

The panel session celebrate a great session: Ruth Norris, Charlie Stockton-Powdrell. Claire Smith, Ben Green, Pip Peakman

Tuesday started with a plenary session about the science of groups and teams and the importance of true diversity in teams.  Diversity in this instance was focusing more on mix of skills and the experiences that different roles can contribute to a comprehensive and effective inter-disciplinary team, with recognition of the contribution each team member adds.  From our team, Ben was next up with his talk ‘It’s not all fun and games: Building multiplayer worlds to explore, learn and expand’ which was an insight into the hospital simulation mega-game that he and colleagues created.  The mega game gave the opportunity for players to explore their skills and also to develop and learn new ones in a safe simulated environment – although players took their roles very seriously!  After his talk, Ben received a standing ovation, the only one of the entire conference – we were very proud.

The megagame – Ben shares his experience with a rapt audience

Later that afternoon it was time for Charlie to give her talk ‘Building capacity and capability in Greater Manchester (UK) through peer to peer support and development: The Research Programme Managers’ Network (RPMN)’.  Charlie talked about the evolution of the RPMN and the added value that brings to the research landscape in Greater Manchester, as well as sharing the development framework which was created to help develop the research capability in health and social care in our region.

Charlie brings the Research Programme Managers’ Network to the US audience

Due to meet and head over to the conference venue, the next morning, the whatsapp group was bombarded with messages that various members of the group were all experiencing various difficulties in getting ready, ranging from wardrobe malfunctions to oversleeping.  As it turns out, it was all a ruse to ambush Charlie with birthday cake and pressies in Ruth’s hotel room where the group were hiding with a card, cake and various gifts, including the much sought-after #TeamsBuildDreams mug and baseball cap.

Happy Birthday, Charlie!

Before any birthday fun could commence, there was Ruth’s talk to look forward to ‘365: implementing team science in a British University’.  Ruth was extremely well-supported by the rest of the team, complete with hats, banners & mugs!  Her talk began with a review of how we have started to implement a team science approach at the University of Manchester since the SciTS conference last year, and even prizes for those who knew some fascinating facts about Manchester’s history.


Team Awesome: Team Manchester support Ruth in her talk session

And so to an evening of birthday fun and team activities: the #teamsbuilddreams baseball cap was a very timely gift as we had tickets to watch the local baseball team play.  What a wonderful way to end the week and celebrate a birthday while away from home – teams really do build dreams!

The final day of the conference arrived and we were about to leave for the airport when we were given the nod that we were ‘strongly encouraged’ to attend the awards ceremony.  Not only were we the talk of the conference, it turns out we were a multi-award-winning team!  Ben was awarded a prize for his individual oral presentation after his standing ovation the day before – very well-deserved too, our Ben!

Secondly, very excitingly, the entire Manchester team (CHI and MCRC) were delighted to be presented with an award for Outstanding Team Contribution for “being a beautiful example of what it means to lift up each other together as teams” and for “accomplishing the Great British Invitation”.  What an honour to receive both awards and to be recognised for bringing the UK’s contribution to this International Science of Team Science Conference and a wonderful way to end the conference.

Charlie, Ben, Ruth and Claire with team Manchester’s conference awards

And so after a stimulating and successful conference, now the team are back in Manchester and ready to start implementing a team science approach across the university – watch this space!


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