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InterAction Peer Review of TRIUMF . 2½ Years Later: Reprise, Respond, Reflect. InterActions Collaboration Meeting | July 15, 2011. T.I. Meyer | Head, Strategic Planning & Communications | TRIUMF. Recap. Remember….

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InterAction Peer Review


2½ Years Later: Reprise, Respond, Reflect

InterActions Collaboration Meeting | July 15, 2011

T.I. Meyer | Head, Strategic Planning & Communications | TRIUMF

  • At written request of TRIUMF director, InterAction Collaboration formed its first Peer Review Committee
  • Conducted detailed review of TRIUMF’s communications activities on February 2-4, 2009
  • Scope included media, publications, web & social media, community, education & outreach, conferences, internal communications, and management & resources
  • Final written report made publicly available
recap in my own words
Recap – in my own words
  • Strong comms office
    • Good progress
    • Interesting combination of planning & comms
    • Potential for (a lot) more
  • Planning & budget needs clarity
    • Focus, resources, plans
  • Lab needs simple/clear vision (even tagline!)
  • Pulling everything together into one spot (figuratively & literally) will be important milestone


(Yes, we listened!)

response five year plan 2010 2015
Response: Five-Year Plan 2010-2015
  • Five-Year Plan 2010-2015: Building a Vision for the Future was TRIUMF’s formal proposal to Government of Canada for core operating funds
    • The manuscript itself was recognized with the top prize from the Editors’ Association of Canada (Tom Fairley Award, given June 2009)
  • Report & process widely regarded as defining moment for laboratory
    • Worry a bit about how to surpass this next time!
  • In Budget 2010, Finance Minister announced five years of core funding for TRIUMF
    • Federal budget documents used two paragraphs of text from the TRIUMF Five-Year Plan report
response five year plan
Response: Five-Year Plan
  • Worked closely with laboratory director to design & implement strategy for maximizing opportunity of Five-Year Plan
    • Made $60M request of BC provincial government that hinged upon $300M request of Canadian government
    • Worked with external economists to conduct “economic impact” analysis of joint investment in TRIUMF
  • Result was that governments got into conversation about value of TRIUMF and how to coordinate the opportunity
    • Federal government supported $222M for five years, largest science commitment in federal budget during recession
    • Provincial government made single largest contribution to science and to TRIUMF of $30M
  • Critical to develop intimate connections with politicals, senior civil servants, and “people who do the work”
response five year plan1
Response: Five-Year Plan
  • Communications challenge
    • Flat-flat core operating funds
    • Reduction-in-force by ~10%
    • Taking on more work with ARIEL project
  • Used specific tactics to engage community, university owners, and key government stakeholders
    • Bottom-line message was to seize opportunity even if funding not fully complete
response patience turns loss into win
Response: Patience turns Loss into Win
  • The 2010-2015 funding consists of:
  • Treasury Board $222.3 M
  • WED 1.0 M
  • E-LINAC funding
    • BCKDF – Building 10.9 M
    • BCKDF – e-LINAC match 19.7 M
    • CFI – e-LINAC 17.8 M
  • NRCan Medical Isotopes 2.0 M
  • Commercial Revenue ~$1M/year 5.0 M
    • TRIUMF NSERC ~7.0 M
    • Total Funding $285.7 M
    • Other CFI Projects: 20.0 M
  • Total $306 M
response planning comms
Response: Planning + Comms
  • Vancouver is still seen as far away from Ottawa…and sometimes even Canada
  • Continue to seek ways to position the laboratory as key resource for Canada in global science
    • CERN DG Rolf Heuer planned Canada trip for honorary degree and public lecture
    • TRIUMF secured a panel discussion at annual “Canadian Assoc of Physicists” meeting about CERN assoc. membership
    • TRIUMF arranged for key ministerial mtgs in Ottawa
    • TRIUMF arranged for media interviews of Heuer in Ottawa (national capital) and Victoria (BC provincial capital)
response comms planning
Response: Comms + Planning
  • Cover story in Nature Physics on ALPHA
    • Lead author was TRIUMF scientist
    • Magazine chose story title based on lede of Canadian press release
response branding
Response: Branding
  • TRIUMF Style Guide developed (V1.5)
    • Stationery, templates; rolling out sub-brands
    • Influencing new signage being erected on site
    • Conference room refurbs consulted comms team for branding/décor advice)
  • No real enforcement beyond peer pressure
  • Tagline
    • “Accelerating Science for Canada”
response branding samples
Response: Branding (Samples)
  • Original artwork now generated by comms team
response budget resources
Response: Budget & Resources
  • Admittedly, end of formal GR/lobbying effort for five-year funding allows for simplified budgeting
  • New CFO is key asset, though, in honest planning and…adjusting perceived costs
response staffing 1
Response: Staffing (1)
  • Head is formal member of Senior Management team
    • Report directly to lab director
    • Typically involved in Division-Head-only meetings
  • Job includes public affairs, government relations, and some “choosing what the lab will actually do”
response staffing 2
Response: Staffing (2)
  • Shuffled some staff
    • Eliminated FTE “Conference Coordinator” position
    • Redeployed publications people to “event management” and “scientific pubs”
    • Sticking with two undergrad students/term as much as possible
    • Summary: 3 + 1.5 + 2 students = 6.5 FTEs for comms, outreach, graphics, govmtrlxns, strategy, publications
  • Students are engines for success
    • Meghan Magee earned Co-Op Student of the Year both at UBC and state-wide
    • Sometimes need to choose graphics vs writing skills
response pulling it all together
Response: Pulling It All Together
  • Scattered activities…now centralized
    • Newsletter, annual financial report, annual business-development report all developed by comms office
    • Challenge is resources (esp. time)
  • Human Resources’ internal bulletin still separate but better coordinated now
    • They also join staff meeting every two weeks
    • Some persistent arm wrestling for control of web (sections), internal comms, and vision/values for recruiting
response geography
Response: Geography
  • Group is now co-located in upstairs office suite in Main Office Building
    • Publications, web, outreach, and students
    • Adjacent to ES&H officer, Engineering Division Head
    • Well-travelled, easy to find space
    • Becoming a regular stomping ground
  • Huge boost for morale and WELL worth it
  • Debated whether TM should move as well
    • From adjacent to director’s suite to one floor away
    • Trade-offs
response clear vision 1
Response: Clear Vision (1)

TRIUMF is Canada's national laboratory for particle and nuclear physics. It is owned and operated as a joint venture by a consortium of Canadian universities via a contribution through the National Research Council Canada with building capital funds provided by the Government of British Columbia. Its mission is:

  • To make discoveries that address the most compelling questions in particle physics, nuclear physics, nuclear medicine, and materials science;
  • To act as Canada's steward for the advancement of particle accelerators and detection technologies; and
  • To transfer knowledge, train highly skilled personnel, and commercialize research for the economic, social, environmental, and health benefit of all Canadians.


response clear vision 2
Response: Clear Vision (2)

TRIUMF will:

  • Lead in Science: The world sees TRIUMF as Canada’s leader in probing the structure and origins of matter and in advancing isotopes for science and medicine.
  • Leverage University Research: The Canadian university research community views TRIUMF as a way to strengthen and expand their research programs.
  • Connect Canada to the World: International subatomic physics laboratories look to TRIUMF when partnering with Canada and its research community.
  • Create Social and Economic Growth: The global scientific community sees TRIUMF as a bridge between academia and the private sector and as a model for commercialization & social impact.


response clear vision 3
Response: Clear Vision (3)

TRIUMF is committed to a set of core values that characterize its culture and govern its relationship with the external world.

  • Excellence and Progress. A commitment to excellence and merit with an emphasis on achieving TRIUMF’s mission and vision.
  • Innovation and Creativity. Approaching assignments, tasks, and problems in new and efficacious ways; creating novel ideas and techniques.
  • Integrity and Transparency. Being responsible and accountable for our actions and their consequences; respecting people, their ideas and diversity; working safely and sustainably with openness, honesty, generosity, and equity.
  • Partnership and Service. Working with other individuals, groups, and institutions for mutual benefit, the good of society and each other.



triumf accelerating science for canada
TRIUMF: Accelerating Science for Canada


University of Alberta

University of BC

Carleton University

University of Guelph

University of Manitoba

Université de Montréal

Queen’s University

Simon Fraser University

University of Toronto

University of Victoria

York University

Associate Members

University of Calgary

McMaster University

University of Northern BC

University of Regina

Saint Mary’s University

University of Winnipeg

  • Research focus:
  • Advancing isotopes for science & medicine
  • Probing the structure & origins of matter

TRIUMF is owned & operated by a consortium of 17 universitiesFounded 42 years ago in Vancouver

comment response web social media
Comment & Response: Web & Social Media
  • “TRIUMF’s newly launched Web site represents a great step forward in the laboratory’s electronic communications. The continuing incorporation of new content and of Web 2.0 tools could further strengthen this key communication tool.”
  • Contracted with David Harris for “Social Media Training & Planning Workshop” in Feb 2011
    • Met with potential contributors and engaged key senior staff to address concerns
    • Identified niche opportunity for TRIUMF related to “personality” of particle-physics lab
    • Completely hooked lab director
  • Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, Quantum Diaries
    • Still residual concerns about “usage” policies
comment community relations
Comment: Community Relations
  • “The committee recognized both the risk and the opportunity created by the changing demographics of TRIUMF’s immediate neighbourhood combined with real and perceived environmental hazards at the laboratory. The committee recommended that TRIUMF implement a professionally-led community task force to advise laboratory management on public participation in planning and decision-making at TRIUMF.”
response community relations
Response: Community Relations
  • TRIUMF celebrated 40th anniversary 2009 with Community Open House
    • Team of 110 people
    • 1,300 people visited in four hours
  • Included commemorative ceremony for planting of “Newton’s Apple Trees”
    • Brought together “alumni” community and VIPs
response community relations1
Response: Community Relations
  • Frequent co-programming with local civic group, University Neighbourhood Association
    • Tours of TRIUMF
    • Science lectures
    • “Science in the Movies”
    • Annual community picnic
  • At TRUMF 40th Anniversary, Exec Dir said….
response education outreach
Response: Education & Outreach
  • Physics in Action high-school educational video
    • Pushed through to next milestone, then stopped work
    • Started discussions with partners for new funding, new direction, and new approaches
  • Still lack focused Education & Outreach plan
    • Starting to connect with regional resources/agencies
  • Public tours improved as result of community open-house efforts, but stalled again
comment internal comms
Comment: Internal Comms
  • “The committee commended TRIUMF management’s commitment to transparency and internal communication and encouraged the development of improved internal communication media, as well as the integration of communication into line management responsibility.”
response internal comms
Response: Internal Comms
  • Borrowing from STFC…
    • Each division now has monthly all-staff meeting
    • People JUST starting to ask questions
    • Director gives site-wide all-hands meeting every qtr
    • Director meets new employees each month
    • Every 2-3 weeks, 10 employees selected for “Breakfast with Director”
  • Still no efficient/effective channel to reach all staff
    • Paper memos have been useful, but debate about whether “everyone has e-mail” continues
  • Morale has been oscillating
    • Director sometimes seen as irrational instead of ambitious
    • Transition to pay parking was rough…misunderstood
  • Invaluable to get team+lab+leadership on same page
  • Peer Review gave really good guidance
    • And especially focus! What to focus on first…
    • Even shared with government stakeholders
  • Strengthened core capabilities so we can deal with everything that changes in more responsible fashion
  • Some new risks have emerged
    • Animal research / rights … openness/transparency
    • Politically-driven changing tax environment
still challenges
Still Challenges
  • Some hopes are still dreams
    • Moving forward with neighbourhood task force has been tough
    • Stalled by lack of time, money, initiative
    • Just this year, started group project management planning, but at expense of updating comms strategy
    • Tours steady, but further growth & professional updating stalled
    • Science program not well promoted on website
    • Have not made modern TRIUMF brochure for VIPs
    • Future of NSL
  • In some ways, peer review outlined vision, but still need muscle!
going forward
Going forward
  • Peer review was brilliant
    • Will seek a follow-up review in Year 3 or Year 5
  • Realistic, cost-neutral advice would be helpful
    • As in, contingency plans when resources not available
    • Don’t want to strengthen constraints but sometimes need advice about how to cope with them
    • Maybe put these terms into charge letter?
  • How do we broaden recognition & reputation?

Thank You


TRIUMF: Alberta | British Columbia |

Calgary | Carleton | Guelph | Manitoba | McMaster | Montréal | Northern British Columbia | Queen’s | Regina | Saint Mary’s |

Simon Fraser | Toronto | Victoria | Winnipeg | York