Lean Down Under

Click on the picture to see a short video from the conference.

The Lean in Higher Education (leanHE) conference 2017 has come to end and, and as I sit on the plane from Sydney to Bangkok I’ll take the opportunity to write down some thoughts. Time flies, and it is hard to believe that it has been a full year since we left Scotland after the 2016 conference (which inspired our first improvement blog). In the day-to-day work and operations it might sometimes be difficult to spot the overall progress, but the conference gave a good opportunity to think about this. In the next passages I’ll sum up a couple (out of many) learning points as I give my view on the impact of the Sydney conference for me and my colleagues from UiT The Arctic University of Tromsø (UiT).

UiT has participated in this annual conference series with two or more delegates each year since it was held in Cardiff in 2014. This has had major impact on our work with continuous improvement. In Waterloo, in 2015, we were informally asked if we would be interested in hosting the conference at some point. In 2016, in Stirling, there was a soft launch of news that UiT would host the conference in 2018. Finally, this year in Sydney, it was a pleasure to formally announce Tromsø and UiT as the host for the next leanHE-conference.

With the knowledge that we would be responsible for next year’s conference, we travelled to Sydney not only to learn more about lean and continuous improvement in higher education, but also to observe how Macquarie University ran the event, the flow and feel of the conference and the overall output. We bring a lot of useful knowledge on this back home.

Another important discovery for us was that we are more capable of bringing experience and knowledge to the conference than we have been before. It was a good experience to be able to present some of the work we do at UiT. There are always new angles and takes on different problems, and so one of the most useful outputs was the many opportunities to grow larger and stronger networks with colleagues from all over the world.

For my part, the most interesting presentations came from Vincent Wiegel and Tobias Byron. Vincent (from HAN University) made sure to challenge and engage the audience, even a bit provocative – which is good. It was interesting to see how he made use of digital solutions to interact with the participants during the presentation. Tobias (from the Macquarie group) brought reflections on what he whish he knew about lean ten years ago. Interesting to see how embedded lean was in a large company.

It is always good to meet old friends, but just as good (and important) to make new ones. We made the most of the time in Sydney. I feel certain that we have strengthened our ties with existing networks across Europe and made new connections in both Europe and Australia. Making new connections is a promise for the opportunity to learn something new.

Our goal for next year’s conference in Tromsø is to make it both practical and applicable. Primarily we want every speaker to have practical and interactive elements in their presentations. We’d like to arrange more workshops where participants get to practice new skills and techniques, and also where we all can be inspired to use new technology both in teaching and facilitating process improvement.

Finally yet importantly, I want to congratulate Valerie Runyan, her team and the Macquarie University for a conference well done and for hospitality beyond what anyone could expect. 150 participants and speakers have been attended to in every possible way. We are very grateful for this, and as we continue planning next year’s conference in Tromsø we will make sure to make good use of Valerie’s knowledge and experience.

Welcome to Tromsø and UiT the Arctic University in Norway next year.

On the conference web-pages you can now pre-register for the conference. https://egencia.qondor.com/lean2018

-Svein Are Tjeldnes

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