A sapling

Continuous Improvement blogPlanting Trees You Will Never See

The Lean in Higher Education conference is over for another year. It was an absolute privilege for the University of Strathclyde to host the conference in 2021. Due to the continuing challenges and restrictions of the pandemic, we were the first conference hosts to deliver a fully online conference experience and I’d like to thank everyone involved in making the conference a great success.

The conference in numbers:

  • 3 days
  • 269 attendees
  • 15 countries represented
  • 99 organisations represented
  • 87 first time attendees
  • 4 keynote speakers
  • 4 Plenary sessions
  • 40 workshop sessions

At the end of the conference we handed over to the 2022 hosts, our friends at the University of Melbourne. We wish them well in their continued planning and will do everything we can to support them, in the same way that previous conference hosts have helped us.

I benefited enormously from hearing the experiences of previous conference hosts and it was also hugely comforting to know, that when you needed something, you knew you could ask and you also knew that they would be happy to help in any way they could. For me that is one example of what the global lean HE community is all about. Paying it forward. Respond to a person’s kindness to oneself by being kind to someone else.

I indicated above that the conference was a great success; but how do I know? What am I basing this on? Well, the vast majority of feedback we have received so far via the post-conference survey has been very positive and complimentary. There are always things that we can improve on and we will use the feedback to help us do this. The feedback will also help guide the University of Melbourne as they plan for the 2022 conference.

As well as striving to provide the best possible experience for attendees during the conference, I believe the success of a conference can also be judged based on the legacy that it creates. I very much hope that the attendees at the 2021 conference use it as a springboard to collaborate more, innovate more and celebrate their successes more.

Back in 2018, I wrote a blog following my experience of the Lean HE International Conference hosted by UiT, The Arctic University of Norway. In this blog I reflected that “it is very 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. In fact, I would suggest, for most of us anyway, that this is the norm.”

I encouraged my fellow attendees at the 2018 conference to “take up this challenge together. Use the contacts that you already have and the new ones that you have made during the conference, to help, support, encourage and challenge you to make that step change.”

That challenge remains with us today and I believe it’s more important than ever that we use the conference to help us make a step change. View the 2021 conference as the start of something new, something different, something better.

The 2021 conference can provide us all with opportunities; so let’s grab them with both hands and make a positive difference.

As a global Lean HE community, let’s continue to plant trees that we will never see.