Continuous Improvement blog Continuous Improvement at Strathclyde - A Fresh Pair of Eyes
Learning, practising what you preach and a different set of eyes...in Glasgow
I arrived at the University of Strathclyde on a glorious Glasgow January day, overcast and raining, to meet the team I was going to work with for the next three months. I was a little nervous to say the least, this team has a reputation for a great depth of experience and knowledge, but excited as this is what I wanted to capture while I was here.
Coming into the team during a time of change with new staff members and an updated vision, it was clear to me that I was going to see change in this environment first hand. What I saw immediately was that they practice what they preach, they have standards and they endeavour to be driven by these standards. My visit was a further impetus to prioritise and focus on this internal improvement with a willing set of hands on deck.
Learning from others
For me, my aim was to learn as much as I could in three months and to use this knowledge to further develop the Lean programme at CQUniversity.
Initially I thought ‘what could I possibly offer this team?’, TimTams?, Lamingtons? an accent?, all of those but also my strong training facilitation, Australian HE knowledge, Project Management skills and passion for Continuous Improvement. The team would benefit from a fresh pair of eyes on what they do every day and bring a different skills set into the team.
Practice what you preach
Continuous improvement practitioners are usually focused on working with other teams on their Continuous Improvement activities and we often forget ourselves. As with a mechanic, their cars are always in need of fixing, it is critical that we don’t forget our team and what we do on a daily basis. The Continuous Improvement team at Strathclyde is undoubtedly practicing what they preach, focusing on improving what they do every day, how they deliver it, and most importantly how others see what they do.
I have been lucky enough to be part of the WOW project – how do we create a WOW factor, ensure that our products are fit for purpose and continually improved. I have seen first-hand that this team always looks for ways to improve everything they do, using survey feedback and testimonials, and then committing to improvement through action plans. There is a real passion to drive change, even when it means changing some of the things we enjoy delivering, because they are not working for our stakeholders.
A different set of eyes
We talk about how important collaboration is and endeavour to do as much as possible, but do we really truly do it and understand the benefits? During my time here at Strathclyde I have worked on a number of mini projects and been involved with the team in the development of their standards.
The largest project saw me add my experiences and thoughts to the Lean for Leaders training package, drawing from my own training background to impart my knowledge of training facilitation and pair this with the team’s extensive Lean knowledge. This combined knowledge and experience resulted in an improved, well-rounded package, which is a better product for our stakeholders.
Everything I did while I was here was about the team’s standards, driving ourselves to continually improve, measuring that the standards are being met and continually asking ourselves “can we do it better in a leaner way?” I think the key to the growth and development of individuals and teams is to collaborate both internally and externally, and in my case across two different cultures and continents within an HE environment.
What have I learned from my time at the University of Strathclyde? A few new Scottish words - baltic, wee, steamin', numpty, and bevvy, and then there are some that are not suitable for publication.
It would be easy to give you a list of my learnings, but I think the biggest lesson is that you have to truly be open to learning and not just think you are. Take yourself out of your comfort zone (you don’t have to move to Glasgow), practice what you preach, develop standards and use the knowledge of others to further develop your own ideas.
Watch this space for what happens when I return to the land Down Under.
12 April 2018
Hayley MacDonald, Manager Organisational Capability at CQU University