This semester I’ve been running a Brexit simulation with Matthew (Memorial) and Chris (Keele). As we’re now moving towards the end phase, I thought it’d be useful to share our progress.
Last week, the UK group submitted their notification to invoke Article 50, which is the formal process for leaving the EU. That came with a letter setting out intentions for the terms of exit (you can read it here, on our FB page).
This week, the groups representing other EU member states have been putting together a response, which should be available very shortly.
That’ll lead up to a final session, face-to-face, in the week of 5 December to try and hammer out a deal.
The eagle-eyed among you will notice I am a bit vague about the date of this last element and this is indeed what I’m going to focus on here: logistics.
Multi-institutional activities are never simple, but trying to work things on the fly is even more complex. And time-consuming.
The short version is like this. I have a two hour slot 9-11 on Monday mornings. We’d originally said we’d use one of those for our final negotiation, but that I would see if I could move it to a more travel-friendly time for the others. However, my timetabling unit will now not move sessions (to ensure students don’t get messed about by staff’s whims, which is fair enough). But then it turned out I could organise an additional session, on top of the normal one. But then it’s taken ages to find any free slots (because our university’s now got lots more students then it used to, but without more rooms), so the only slot on offer is on Tuesday afternoon. Obviously, Chris and Matthew have had to make travel (and accommodation) plans, so by the time this has become an option, we’re now trying to decide how to proceed. Either we stick to Monday morning, or switch to Tuesday, or try and use both.
This is very much my problem, but I’ll make something of it with you all, namely that such things matter. Clearly, we’re working in a much more improvised fashion than usual, but it does make the point that often it is this sort of thing that discourages people from trying to do simulations.
Three obvious solutions present themselves.
- Don’t improvise, plan. If at all possible, work through all these points before you start and then commit to choices. That way everyone knows what’s what.
- If you can’t plan, then keep decisions about changes to as small a group as possible. The three of us are trying to decide everything, but we keep on having to get approvals from other people, so the fewer veto-players there are, the easier it is.
- Keep everyone together. If you’re changing plans, then make sure everyone knows they are changing. To give my own example, I’ve been a bit vague about the extra session with my students because they don’t really need to know the ins-and-outs, just what’s actually happening.
Hopefully, the next update will be about substance not logistics, but let’s see.