Friday, 13 June 2014

Second International Conference on Lean Six Sigma for Higher Education

The fantastic Rozet building in Arnhem
We recently attended the 2nd Lean Six Sigma in HE conference. The conference was held in the Rozet building ( It was a slightly smaller conference than last year's in Glasgow. Initially, I was concerned that this showed a decline in numbers of practitioners using Lean in HE. However, feedback from the organisers stated that timing had been an issue; their advice to next year's organisers was 'don't run it first week of June'.

My next concern was that some of the conference was about using lean practices for improving teaching and research - would this be relevant to me? I was delighted to find out that some of the issues were absolutely relevant, many of the processes that affect teachers and researchers are admin processes and the sort of processes we have been helping people improve. Additionally, it was fantastic to hear people who are involved in core business using lean to help them think about and improve their work.

The conference had discussions about hoshin kanri (strategy deployment) and lean  leadership. This addressed two things that we want to focus on in the next year or so - how can we get our leaders to practise lean and use lean to support their staff and ‘super-processes’? How can we make sure our strategy is supportive and responsive to improvement methodologies? We've got lots of ideas and look forward to sharing them with our steering group next month,

All in all it was a great conference, with representatives from Europe, Asia, Australia and the United States and rather than a sense of decline, the story was very much that lean is  relevant, appropriate and a beneficial methodology for making university processes both effective and efficient. You may wish to read Bob Emiliani's blog about the conference here:

The addition of slide, from second to first floor, in the Rozet building offers an efficient way of getting children out of the library at the end of the day.

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