13 March 2019 - Bursary gives winner the courage to innovate and take up new challenges
Lessons learned from Lean HE Tromsø conference
In October 2018, I received a ucisa bursary to attend the Lean HE 2018 Conference in Tromsø thanks to being one of the very lucky beneficiaries of the ucisa bursary scheme. It was a brilliant week with many informative, interesting and applicable sessions.
The conference brings together many people working in change and improvement roles within HE around the world.
On a personal note
I found attending the conference thoroughly invigorating. It reinforced my pride and passion for working in business improvement and confidence in my skill set and its place within the sector. It also provided me with the ‘courage to change’ my own situation (Professor Tove Dahl spoke powerfully about courage in her key note). I applied for and accepted a new role within another HE institution.
It encouraged me to devise with my team new approaches to stakeholder engagement, particularly in light of the recurrent theme of reducing stakeholder time for project/improvement activities and stakeholder exhaustion with ‘change’ projects. I have adapted my approach to rely a lot less on conventional workshops, instead embracing user shadowing, stakeholder interviews/drop-ins and project showcase events. This has been more time heavy on me but has allowed me to better fit around the requirements and workloads of the project stakeholders.
A recurrent theme of the conference was the importance of combining different but complementary methodologies. I was recently made responsible for creating The University of Sheffield’s approach to service design and I took my learning from the conference and made sure that I incorporated best practice from different methodologies (Lean, Systems Thinking, Six Sigma, Service Design) and other industries rather than allowing it to become too wedded to a single one.
I have shared my experience and key take home messages via a ucisa blog and have also recently created a summary guide with fellow bursary winner and conference attendee, Mark Boswell. The aim of the guide is to highlight useful tools and topics shared throughout the conference and some tips on making the most of the conference experience. It also includes possible next steps in relation to both attending the 2019 conference, and applying for the ucisa bursary funding which allowed us to attend.
The conference really showed me that there is a huge support network within HE both UK based and across Europe, Australia and the Americas, and the value of reaching out to this network, which can provide you with great insights, reassurance and ideas about how to optimise your work. I am still in touch with some of the people I met at the conference via Linkedin and email and feel like I have a bigger network of support than before.