Banner for LeanHE Conference 2021

Continuous Improvement blog Collaborate, Innovate, Celebrate: Next Stop Glasgow!

Over the last few years the Lean in Higher Education International Conference has been held in Cardiff, Waterloo, Stirling, Sydney, Tromsø & Michigan. Melbourne was due to be added to this list this year, but sadly this had to be postponed until 2022 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

However, in true Lean HE style, instead of feeling sorry for ourselves, we considered what other opportunities there were to bring the global lean HE community together. The result? The Lean HE Global Festival, a free online event for our community to come together to share their experiences for the benefit of all.  Over 100 sessions were delivered by colleagues from universities across the world, including Australia, Canada, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Singapore, UK and the USA.

This was an opportunity for the Lean HE global community to come together in a way never seen before. The event brought together around 2,000 people, representing 35 countries and over 400 Higher Education institutions. What an amazing achievement!

The key now, is for us all in the Lean HE community to use this as a platform for our future endeavours.

Writing this blog reminded me of a blog I wrote in November 2018,  “The Power of a Conference: collaboration and networking”. I wrote this following the 2018 Lean HE International Conference in Tromsø, Norway; I reflected that it was all too easy “to go back to work after a conference and become immersed in and consumed by what you’re doing on a day to day basis”. I’m sure that this will still be the case for many of us. However, it’s important that we don’t allow this to happen, we need to strive to apply what we have learned during the Lean HE Global Festival and then share the positive impact of doing so.

Collaborate, Innovate, Celebrate

As we near the end of 2020, progress is being made in the fight against Covid-19 and there is optimism that 2021 may see a return to some semblance of normality, or at the very least a new normal. A new normal that embraces some or indeed many of the innovations that we have introduced into our lives and ways of working, blended with the things that we have so dearly missed during the pandemic.

Following the conclusion of the Lean HE Global Festival, my attention turned to next year’s conference, which we will be hosting at the University of Strathclyde. The Global Festival demonstrated the benefits and opportunities of online events and that is something we will factor into our planning for the conference next year. There will undoubtedly be opportunities to provide learning, sharing and networking in innovative ways and we must embrace these. However, I’m also of the view that in-person meetings will remain fundamentally important in the future. I think James Lancaster of AMI Magazine in one of his recent blogs captured this very nicely when he said:

“In-person meetings are not going anywhere so long as humans have poetry in their souls, love in their hearts and fire in their bellies”

I’m pretty sure the Lean HE global community has all of these things and I look forward to welcoming many of you to Glasgow in October 2021.

The Lean HE International Conference theme for 2021 will be Collaborate, Innovate & Celebrate.

So let’s take up this challenge together. Use the contacts that you already have and the new ones that you have established during the Lean HE Global Festival. Collaborate

Encourage and support, one another to generate new ideas. Innovate

Then come to the Lean HE International Conference in Glasgow in October 2021 to share your ideas and your success. Celebrate

I look forward to welcoming you to Scotland and the wonderful city of Glasgow next year.