THE BUILD UP
When we started to learn about lean and continuous improvement at UiT the Arctic University of Norway, we quickly realized we needed a network, a kinship, to support us. We had little knowledge of which universities we could turn to, to hear those encouraging stories of thrilling successes or the chaotic tales of thundering failures (both equally important). Our perception was one of a growing number of universities in the UK that were heading down the winding road of continuous improvement.
Our foot in the door was a direct request to Christine Stewart at Cardiff University back in 2013. On the back of our visit to Cardiff, we were invited to participate at the 2014 conference of the newly formed Lean in Higher Education hub in the UK (Now known as Lean HE). Literally as we flew to Waterloo (Canada) the following year, to build further on budding friendships, we formulated a desire for a similar Nordic network – not to mention a bold dream to hold a conference on continuous improvement ourselves. We even promised ourselves to use such a hypothetical opportunity to launch a Nordic initiative.
Fast forward 5 years to April 2020. Last week, we held our first meeting with Nordic colleagues. On the agenda: Exploration of a Lean in Higher Education Nordics network. Ironically, the lockdown due to the Corona crisis made it easier to go ahead with a fully virtual meeting – allowing 12 participants from 6 Nordic universities to meet and explore the interest of such a network. It was a pleasure to experience that the first meeting had a vibrant feel to it. As for the conclusion there was no doubt about the commitment between the participants, but rather a crispy clear desire to establish a Nordic branch of Lean HE Europe.
Hopefully, five years from today, we can look back at this meeting as an important steppingstone to acknowledge years of fruitful Nordic collaboration within continuous improvement and innovation.
THE NORDIC FLAVOR
Having observed the growth of the Lean HE network globally, and the value of “local” branches such as the Southern, the North and Midlands in the UK, Lean HE Poland and Lean HE Netherlands and Belgium, we are certain that a Nordic branch will prove valuable as well. The Nordic countries have strong ties and shared values at their core. Lean HE Nordics will give us a platform to collaborate, explore and innovate on our journey of continuous improvement.
-Svein Are Tjeldnes