Change and Continuous Innovation

rachel_m

 

Rachel McAssey
Head of Process Improvement
The University of Sheffield
(Joint Vice-Chair Project and Change Management Group)

 

 

 

 

 

Day two of the Network for Change and Continuous Innovation in HE conference.

A slight downside of the day was the very sporadic Wi-Fi access in the conference hotel. I was only able to reliably tweet until mid-morning. Hopefully it will be better for day 3…

The keynote this morning was very inspiring: Professor Maxi from McGill University “Besieged and Beleaguered, Down but not out: Planned Change at Universities in 21st Century”. The keynote addressed the drivers for change in universities (funding, internationalisation, multiple purposes of mission) and spoke about ways of addressing and supporting the changes. His message about being consultative, using data to identify appropriate changes and measuring impact subsequently was well received.

Next up, I went to implementing a Lean Shared Services Operation. Very quickly, I realised that the challenges we face at the University of Sheffield when thinking about shared services are very different to many American colleges who have multiple campuses, and often very separate technologies to support the administrative work.. I was a little worried about how relevant the session would be. However, the very practical advice about:

  • Establishing a benchmark prior to undertaking the change
  • Have discussions to better understand what good looked like
  • Share the message that no. 1 private organisations are customer focused
  • Focus on process simplification and automation
  • Identify the common and routine services (stop being all things to all people)
  • Identify root causes
  • These are all transferable concepts to managing change.

There was an interesting discussion about gaining trust – a key informal theme that has been running through the conference. The discussion identified that lack of trust can lead to lack of standardisation and work-a-rounds. Gaining and maintaining trust is key to successfully managing change.

After lunch, I want to an excellent panel discussion: three women who had received the Leaders of Change Award from the conference. It was a really interesting opportunity for us to question the panel about how they had successfully implemented lean in order to make major changes and improvements at their universities. Key themes from the session were integrity, resilience, identify champions in certain areas and maximise this potential. Each approach had been slightly different, and for me the learning was about understanding the needs and challenges of your own organisation and address this, rather than implement a one size fits all approach.

Two more sessions in the afternoon: “Using Customer satisfaction and Employee Climate data to drive impactful decisions”. This session demonstrated how the University of California is using its staff and student survey data to identify changes and subsequently measure and manage the changes. The team that support this are incredibly proactive with their support for data analysis, rather than just providing the raw data to departments, this rigorous and methodical approach is a useful way of ensuring that institutions have standard ways of identifying and prioritising changes, and then monitoring the level of success.

The final session had lemon jellybeans – so gave me a well-needed sugar boost “From lemons to Culture Change: moving from a SACS Monitoring Report to a Culture of Continuous Improvement”. The key message is if something is a problem, do not try to deny that it is a problem, recognise it then recast it to identify what opportunities the problem can offer.

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