Continuous Improvement blog A Time for Reflection – and then action

The Continuous Improvement Directorate has had the pleasure of being involved in the Lean in Higher Education International Conference since 2014. This has taken us physically and, in recent times, virtually to many parts of the world including Tromsø, Waterloo, Sydney and Michigan. We even had the privilege of hosting the conference at Strathclyde in 2021, which was a wonderful experience for us.

This year the baton was passed to the University of Melbourne, who did a fantastic job of hosting the conference, with colleagues from the global Lean HE community coming together to share their knowledge and experience.

As with every conference we have attended over the years there were some key takeaways, that we can apply to our own practice as we seek to improve how we do things. It was also great to see and be part of some international collaborations during this year’s conference.  For example, taking inspiration from the conference in 2021, a group of colleagues from around the world came together to share what they have been developing in the subject area of Hoshin Kanri. Not only did they present the work they have been doing over the past year at the conference in Melbourne, but I’m also very much looking forward to a book being published next year as a tangible output from this great collaborative work.

View from the wing mirror of a carFor me personally, the post-conference period also serves as an opportunity for reflection, both personal and collective. Reflection allows us to identify positive, and perhaps negative, experiences and better identify ways that we can improve the practices and services that we deliver. Following the conference in 2021, as a team, we spent a great deal of time reflecting on the experiences we all had and thinking about what we could implement. It would be fair to say that our reflections resulted in improvements being made to our own products and work practices.  

One key reflection for me was just how powerful, impactful, and inspiring international collaborations can be. This year I had the pleasure of being part of an international panel of experts who shared their insights on “People leading people leading Lean in Higher Education”. I also co-presented with Krista Schulte from the University of Michigan on “Progress Not Perfection: How to Support & Coach Teams Learning Lean”, in which we shared our experiences and lessons learned in relation to training, coaching, and mentoring on lean and continuous improvement tools and techniques. It was a great experience to work with Krista on this and, on reflection, it has inspired me to collaborate even more.

Having reflected, what I am going to do next? Well, it’s now time to act, it’s time to identify ways to improve our practices and services we deliver. I’m going to reach out to colleagues at the University of Michigan to collaborate even more. I’d like us to collaborate on benefits management in the Higher Education sector. Can we come up with an approach that is high quality, easy to use and one that also translates and works internationally? I would like to think that by the next conference in October 2023, we will be presenting with the University of Michigan on benefits management. I’m pretty sure we can, so watch this space.

If you’d like to collaborate with the CI Directorate at the University of Strathclyde, we’d love to hear from you.