Tag Archives: continuous improvement

International lessons in applying continuous improvement

Leah March
Process Improvement Facilitator
University of Sheffield

 

 

Lean HE 2018 Conference

I recently returned from the beautiful Tromsø where I attended the Lean HE 2018 Conference, thanks to being one of the very lucky beneficiaries of the UCISA bursary scheme. It was a brilliant week with many informative, interesting and applicable sessions.
The sessions included key notes from Niklas Modig, researcher, Center for Innovation and Operations Management, Stockholm School of Economics (author of ‘This is Lean’ about ‘How to generate change and engagement’) and Tove Dahl, Professor at UiT the Arctic University of Norway, on courage and the importance of inspiring and rewarding courage throughout change activities. The following sessions covered many topics including: incorporating visual management into everyday working, games to encourage idea generation, using institutional risk to drive change and inspiring Lean at the leadership level and within teams, to list but a few. Myself and Mark Boswell form Middlesex University will be drawing together a guide over the next couple of weeks with links and descriptions about the key tools shared, useful software used and signposting to details about next year’s conference.
There was lots of learning to take-away, particularly the similarities around the current
situation/climate/ issues many of the delegates institutions from across the world were facing. These related to difficulties finding operational staff the time to engage in change activities, uncertainty about what the future might hold in relation to funding, student numbers and student expectations and the high level of change occurring within their organisations. I found meeting delegates from other institutions and discussing how they are applying continuous improvement and overcoming obstacles in their institution a really valuable part of the conference.
Key learning points from the conference:
  • There is a huge support network within HE both UK based and across Europe, Australia and the Americas, reaching out to this network can provide you with great insights, reassurance and ideas about how to optimise your work.
  • Senior management support is crucial in driving continuous improvement within organisations and getting buy-in from senior leaders should be a key priority
  • We need to put customers at the heart of the changes and improvements we drive, on both an institutional and team level
  • Many organisations are embracing a multi-methodology approach (combining lean, service design, continuous improvement etc.) but all at maintain, at their heart, the importance of respect for people
  • It takes courage to drive and embrace change and this courage needs to be recognised and rewarded
  • As well as reaching out to colleagues within the sector we can also learn a lot by adopting open process innovation. Looking towards other industries for ideas and best practice.
  • Stories can be used as powerful tools to encourage analytical thinking in a ‘safe’ way.    
I would like to say a huge thank you to the Lean HE Europe committee and of course, to the team at The Arctic University of Norway for organising such a brilliant conference. Everyone I spoke to remarked on the wonderful and open atmosphere and interesting and engaging topics.
I would also like to say a huge thank you to the UCISA bursary scheme for enabling me to attend and learn so much and to the UCISA PCMG community for their support and interest.
Next steps, myself and Mark will share our summary guide to the conference and key tools shared, and Mark will be blogging about his conference experience and key take home points.

Interested in applying for a UCISA bursary? Then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme.

UCISA bursary winner presents at Lean in Higher Education conference

Marion Malcolm
Business Improvement Team Lead
University of Aberdeen

Australasian Lean HE Conference 2017, Macquarie University, NSW, Australia

Marion Malcolm was funded to attend this event as a 2017 UCISA bursary winner

The aim of my presentation, ‘Lean Training to Lean Projects’ (2.56MB) at the Australasian Lean HE Conference was to show why Business Improvement teams need to change their model of working during organisational change to ensure that they continue to deliver good lean practice in a relevant way. The Business Improvement (BI) Team at the University of Aberdeen in its initial stages were involved in a significant number of initiatives across the organisation. However, as the university entered a period of restructuring, it experienced a change in people’s availability and motivation to be involved in non-strategic initiatives.

The presentation summarised how the BI team at University of Aberdeen has used Lean training to train and support project teams on strategic programmes as well as kick-start other business improvement initiatives. As part of the presentation, I highlighted case studies to show the journey from the training to the project development and implementation e.g. Student Recruitment and Admissions (SRAS) have undertaken reviews of their key processes and have made changes:

  • to enhance the enquirer/applicant experience
  • to achieve better integration with other sections in the university (reducing duplication etc.)
  • to consolidate IT systems when various systems were used previously, allowing for much better planning and reporting, amongst other benefits.

Delegates’ feedback was that they found the practical examples in the session helpful and came away with some useful ideas on how to train across their organisations, and how to make Lean stick.

A wide variety of interesting and useful speaker talks from the conference are available here.

I had a key set of conference objectives to meet in attending the conference, and came away with some key learning from the event. I will be blogging further about my intended next steps following what I learnt at the conference.

Interested in finding out more about a UCISA bursary, then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme.

Lean in Higher Education conference – key learning

Marion Malcolm
Business Improvement Team Lead
University of Aberdeen

Australasian Lean HE Conference 2017, Macquarie University, NSW, Australia

Marion Malcolm was funded to attend this event as a 2017 UCISA bursary winner

In November, I was able to attend the Australasian Lean HE Conference, courtesy of a UCISA bursary. I had a range of key objectives for attending the conference, one of which involved networking with practitioners from across the globe. The 150 delegates at the conference came from across Australia, Asia, New Zealand, Europe and North America.

My key learning points from attending the conference were:

I will be blogging further about the event including what my key next steps will be, and further information on my presentation on ‘Lean Training to Lean Projects’.

Interested in finding out more about a UCISA bursary, then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme.

Conference objectives for a Lean international event

Marion Malcolm
Business Improvement Team Lead
University of Aberdeen

Australasian Lean HE Conference 2017, Macquarie University, NSW, Australia

Marion Malcolm was funded to attend this event as a 2017 UCISA bursary winner

As a result of a successful UCISA bursary application, I was able to attend the Australasian Lean HE Conference in 2017. I also presented at the event on ‘Lean Training to Lean Projects’.

My conference objectives were to:

  • Network with practitioners from across the globe who have developed Lean initiatives
  • Share knowledge and form collaborative partnerships
  • Find out how universities and colleges are engaging employees and achieving measureable and cultural changes
  • Understand how Lean has been implemented, what buy in, senior leadership and support was required for implementation, and what lessons were learned
  • Understand how to measure, demonstrate, and report benefits following implementation of new process improvements, to ensure continuous improvement
  • Learn how Lean is used by industry and how these practices can be adapted to HE
  • Engage in interactive workshops, panels and sessions to find answers to questions and challenges.

150 delegates attended the event from Australia, Asia, New Zealand, Europe and North America.  Some of the keynote speakers with inspirational messages at the event were:

I will be blogging further about the event including areas of key learning, key next steps, and further information on my presentation on ‘Lean Training to Lean Projects’.

 Interested in finding out more about a UCISA bursary, then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme.

Adopting a New Style of Project Management and Initiation

Graham Francis
Director of Continuous Improvement
Havering Sixth Form College

A Continuous Improvement Approach

Introduction

If you search for “Why do projects fail?” you will find all sorts of reasons for their demise but running throughout the results is a ‘lack of communication’, a ‘lack of detailed planning’ and ‘scope creep’.  Each of these has the ability to bring any project to the point of failure in a very short space of time.  To combat this Havering Sixth Form College (HSFC) has altered its project management process in an effort to prevent this.

Like many establishments, HSFC had experienced projects which failed to achieve the intended result due to poor preparation and implementation.  Projects would be poorly defined with no one person really understanding what the final outcome of the project was (due to a lack of communication) to be.

Projects would often drift aimlessly due to a lack of planning or continue beyond their anticipated completion date due to poor management (and a lack of detailed planning).  Even worse the requirements of the project would often be changed without any due process (resulting in project creep).  In order to combat this, the College has developed a methodology with clearly defined steps, prescribed documentation and a series of systematic reviews to ensure that each project is managed with the aim of being completed on time, on budget and is as required.

Plan-Do-Check-Act

To support this process the College introduced the role of Director of Continuous Improvement and adapted an approach to Continuous Improvement based on the ‘Deming Cycle’.  Deming describes the cycle as an iterative process consisting of four-parts Plan, Do, Check and Act (PDCA).  This process has been used to support ‘Total Quality Management’ and has been used with great success within the production process of Toyota.

Early efforts to embrace these principles often appeared quite primitive.  In order to visualise the progress of each projects, a ‘Kanban’ board approach was adopted.  Initially, this contained four columns Waiting, Definition, Production and Evaluation.  Which loosely mapped to the four stages of the Deming Cycle.  With the exception of Waiting, each section was further subdivided into three further columns, To Do, In Progress and Done.  Sticky Notes were used to monitor projects but these would often get knocked off or dry out and fall off and had to be repositioned when this occurred.

 

 

 

 

 

This early image of the ‘board’ shows a number of projects at the ‘Waiting’ stage.  At this stage the project is nothing more than an idea such as Increase Storage Infrastructure capacity or Asset Management.  During this stage, an initial exploration of the idea is explored to ascertain if it is viable and what budget the project might require.  To support this process, budget remains unallocated from a central ‘pot’ until the project has passed the next stage of Definition.

In the next blog, we will explore what takes place during the Definition stage and what documentation has been developed to support this.

A presentation on this subject, originally presented at the UCISA London Group meeting in September 2017, can be found here 

The UCISA London group provides a forum for London institutions to meet, to identify and share best practice and to identify opportunities for collaboration and potential shared services.

UCISA and the London Metropolitan Network are working in partnership to create a UCISA London regional group which will take up and extend LMN’s London-based activities, including local opportunities for training, professional development and peer exchange and advice on strategies for the best use of scarce resources – including new or existing shared services – in order to provide exemplary IT services for staff and students.

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.