Monday, 7 April 2014

A Tale of Two Steering Groups - part 1

The Process Improvement Unit is a University resource: we send an update to our Steering Group about our progress once a month and meet three times a year. The Steering Group is chaired by the Vice Chancellor, other members are the Registrar, PVC for Science and the Directors of CiCS, Research & Innovation Services and Strategy, Planning & Change. We are pleased that so many members of senior staff take an interest in process improvement.

Our latest meeting was held on 2nd April, and the main piece of business was a review of the unit's progress to date. The report highlighted results from a selection of our projects and also had a selection of general comments from staff about the work of the unit. Next steps will be building on the success of the past year or so, and talking to staff to identify our next tranche of projects.

The other really useful conversation was about lean leaders. We’ve been concerned in PIU that, without a general cultural awareness of ‘lean’ in the institution, the impact of individual projects will be dissipated over time. Working with University leaders at all levels to encourage lean thinking and leadership is a key part of our strategy to avoid process decay, so we were really pleased that the group came up with a number of ideas about how we might start this work. Our next step will be to identify a group of leaders with whom we can progress this work. We’ll be working on the concepts of PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act) and continuous improvement that a “Lean Leader” needs to understand, and on the support that they need to give their staff to identify and fix problems at their root rather than "papering over the cracks".

In order to do this successfully, the backing and support of our Steering Group will be essential.

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