Friday, 18 March 2016

Leah's Last Day in PIU

I have had a wonderful two years in PIU, working within a terrific team and still can’t quite believe that this will be my last day!

What have I enjoyed the most?
Aside from playing with Lego, paper aeroplanes and counters, it has been wonderful to work with so many different people and departments across the University and see such a desire to improve processes and services for staff and students. I have thoroughly enjoyed all aspects of PIU’s work, from project and workshops through to training and general advice. I have found project work the most fulfilling as it allows you to really bury down to the root cause of a problem with a team so that they can then make improvements.

Working within PIU has been an invaluable experience that has allowed me to learn so much under supportive and expert guidance and I would like to thank Rachel, Dave and Gillian for being such fabulous colleagues and to warn them that I will continue to pester them in the future!

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Polishing the Diamond

Recently we were asked to give a talk on process improvement and Lean to a group of students in the Sheffield Engineering Leadership Academy. Normally our training and awareness raising is delivered to staff at the University, so this invitation was a welcome opportunity to talk to some of the people for whom most of our improvement activity is ultimately undertaken.
The training was held in the new Diamond building, and it was great for us to be able to see the space and to use it ourselves. We were really impressed with the quality of the AV provision and the flexibility of the space.
File_001.jpegWe regularly run process improvement awareness training, but for this group of students we needed to change some of the content to suit their particular interests. We had some interesting conversations about what those might be - in PIU none of have any expertise in engineering! We decided that we needed to talk briefly about the history of lean and outline the main principles, before running our ziggurat building game.
It was really interesting to see both how the layout of the room (about 8 groups of tables, rather than one large table) changed the dynamics of the game. Having a physical separation between building stages meant that we were able to build in roles for everyone by having some students transport the ziggurats in makeshift boats. It also highlighted the difficulties caused by transport, and helped to highlight building bottlenecks.

It was also interesting to see that the students’ main interest was in sorting the Lego, and using it to build all sorts of exciting constructions (see above).
We think the game really helped to reinforce the learning from the principles and we could see that the audience engaged really well with the problem solving - indeed they made suggestions after the first round which would have made the process more efficient than we normally make it after three rounds of building.
At the end of the training we got some really useful feedback, both positive and suggestions for improvement - which we’ll be taking on board to make some changes.

We hope that we’ll be asked to do more training for students as we really enjoyed having a new audience with a different perspective and new suggestions for ways in which we can improve our practice.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Practitioner Event

This afternoon we held our first Practitioner Event! We arranged it in response to work we have been doing with our Practitioners recently to identify how we could better engage with them and encourage communication and collaboration amongst the cohort. This research concluded that the majority of our Practitioners would find an informal gathering that included an opportunity to learn a new process improvement tool and to network with one another helpful.

Today we were very lucky to welcome Claire Ward and Katie Wall from Sheffield Hallam’s Business Improvement Services who facilitated a 1hr training session/workshop looking at Customer Personae and Customer Journey Mapping. For the workshop the group were first split into four groups and each were given a type of customer that would attend a University open day (e.g Parent, prospective PG student, prospective UG student, international student). They were then asked to complete a customer personae for them, listing their back story, motivations, ideal experience and frustrations in relation to attending an open day. This was a really useful way of encouraging people to think about a process from the customer's perspective. Claire then introduced Customer Journey Mapping following which the group split again and completed a customer journey map using the personae they had created earlier and the template SHU use in their workshops. Neither myself or the group had seen this technique before and I particularly liked recognising the touch points between us and our customers in the process (something we do not always consider) and the ‘moments of truth’, the points in the process that are fundamental to customer experience. Myself, Rachel and the group found it extremely interesting and enjoyable! I am already excited to use the techniques in future workshops!

For the last 30mins of the event we facilitated a networking exercise where we asked everyone to write down their PI Paternoster Patter. This was a quick summary of who they were (name, role) what PI activities they had carried since their training and what they would like to do in the future. They then took it in turns to present this back to their group. One of the clear preferences from the cohort when we asked them what they would like an event to include was an opportunity to meet one another and discuss their PI work. We felt that this was a nice way to encourage this (particularly as this was the first time they had all been in the same room).

What will we continue
  • Having external speakers from another institution - this is something we want to continue next time
  • Timing of 90mins - although some expressed concerns that it was too short we feel that the 90mins is a more accessible amount of time for the majority
  • Opportunity to meet others from the cohort - many expressed that this was a useful opportunity to do so and we will encourage this in the next session

We are looking to run the events three times a year and I would like to thank everyone who came along! It was wonderful to see you again, you were a fabulous group who really got stuck in!

I would also like to say a huge thankyou to Claire and Katie again for giving up their time to come up and share a excellent tool!

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Barriers to change seminar

Today I attended the Lean HE Hub Steering Group meeting hosted by The University of Manchester. The meeting focused on the group’s commitment to support Lean in HE globally. Our Terms of Reference have been amended accordingly. We were delighted to welcome Svein Are Tjeldnes from The University of the Arctic to the group; I really admire his focus and enthusiasm.

The other item of business was reviewing preparations for our conference series. Plans are well underway for the conference in  Stirling. Book now to take full advantage of the early bird booking rate, the programme looks very exciting. We also reviewed preparations for the 2017 conference (further details will be available soon).

In the afternoon we were joined by about 50 HE professionals who are practising lean or involved in lean projects. We spent the afternoon investigating barriers to change and ways of explaining lean to non-lean specialists. The team at Manchester will be publicising the outputs of the seminar shortly.

All in all it was a day with a good balance of networking and meeting new people, reflecting on current state, identifying opportunities for improvement in my own practice and playing my part in advancing the valuable work of the Lean HE Hub.