Previous Lean HE International Conferences


The University of Michigan

Lean Forward

Connect. Inspire. Advance.


Lean Forward: Connect. Inspire. Advance.

Date: November 6th - 8th 2019

Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan. 

Conference Materials Available Here

The University of Michigan and Lean HE welcomed 203 attendees to beautiful Ann Arbor, affectionately known as “Tree Town.”  Attendees told us:

"This is my first time to the Lean Conference, it has been an awesome experience, meeting so many motivated like-minded people."

"I feel re-freshed and ready to bring new energy back to my team - I am a convert."

"This conference feel different - it feels like a community of people who really care."

"Being able to pick up the phone for advise, support and ideas is just priceless"

"I had no idea how many universities were involved and can’t wait to help set up a group in my own town."

"The key-note speakers were awesome, I would never had the opportunity to hear these people without the Lean HE conference."

"I made so many new friends and a found a network I never knew existed"

Since the term “lean” was first coined over 30 years ago, this way of thinking and acting has spread across industries and from peer to peer, as we share ideas and take advantage of many lessons learned. We’ve come so far! 

Lean HE’s mission began 5 years ago, at a conference at Coventry University in the UK, with hopes to connect lean practitioners in Higher Ed, to share experiences about how they’ve made an impact, to learn from each other what works in a university setting, and then use that knowledge to make things better for those we serve:  the students, the staff, the faculty, and our communities.

Since then, the Lean HE network has grown to a community of over 2,200 global practitioners, reaching across three continental divisions.  Looking at everything we know now, this conference was the start of the next big step! We saw opportunities to make things more effective, more efficient, and help keep the transformative power of Higher Ed accessible to all. We shared our latest insights and methods and how they’re moving us forward. We learned what others are trying and sparked innovations we can all use.

Universities from all around the globe joined together and found warm support and inspiration for their next breakthrough.  

From this awesome conference we invite you to Lean Forward and help us go further together.



UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø,

Everyday lean – from your story to my story


Date: 31 October - 2 November 2018
Location: Tromsø, Norway


"Great community, great conference, great courage to make universities better places to learn and work"


We learned from sector and world leaders in Lean thinking. We took away practical and theoretical approaches to use from day one to improve our universities. All in beautiful Tromsø.

How do we get to a place where we do lean every day? 
Where continuous improvement is a natural part of everyone’s jobs, not in addition or on top of it?

This year’s conference focused on implementing continuous improvement work everyday. It was about making sustainable changes, involving senior leaders and changing cultural habits.

The presentations and different sessions addressed this theme in different ways with different perspectives.

The main keynote speaker drew the big picture of how organisations can work towards flow efficiency in order to create space and room for every day improvements; also pointing out his theory of the efficiency paradox. In the parallel sessions, there were many opportunities to go deeper into different perspectives on this and more.

The 2018 Lean HE conference was practical and applicable. Through the conference, participants were challenged with new ideas and approaches to continuous improvement, and had the opportunity to train in and apply new skills.

For us at UiT our work is about people. Cultural changes. People’s genuine experience. In other words; deeply listening to peoples’ stories, to bring forth small or big changes every day.

Together our vision of the conference was to support us all in trusting the competence of all our people to be the driving force for change – to make improvements based on knowledge and engagement. To own our own stories together.


Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia, 2017 

Implementing, Measuring and Sustaining Change



Date: 1-3rd November 2017
Location: Sydney, Australia

Following two years of planning, Macquarie University, in partnership with Lean HE, proudly hosted the inaugural Australasian Lean HE Conference in 2017. 

Conference delegates had the chance to:
  • Network with practitioners from across the globe who have developed Lean initiatives
  • Share knowledge and form collaborative partnerships
  • Find out how universities and colleges are engaging employees and achieving measurable and cultural changes
  • Understand how Lean has been implemented, what buy in, senior leadership and support was required for implementation, and what lessons were learned
  • Understand how to measure, demonstrate and report benefits following implementation of new process improvements, to ensure continuous improvement
  • Learn how Lean is used by industry and how these practices can be adapted to HE
  • Engage in interactive workshops, panels and sessions to find answers to questions and challenges.
Keynote speakers, global industry experts and educational leaders presented at the conference.  The conference hosted speakers from Australia, New Zealand,  England, Scotland, Norway, Netherlands, USA and Canada. And was a great opportunity to network with Lean Leaders from across the globe.

For more information contact lean2017@mq.edu.au


Stirling, Scotland, 2016 

People, Culture and Lean in Higher Education



Date: 1-3rd November 2016
Location: Stirling, Scotland, United Kingdom


"Phenomenal", "Buzzing", "Inspiring", "Amazing positivity!"

Lean HE 2016 explored innovative approaches to the use of Lean, and the impact Lean continuous improvement activity on organisational culture and staff engagement. 

The programme focused on this from the perspective of lean practitioners, people managers and those engaged in organisational development, and examined ways in which lean may be utilised to enable it to become embedded into organisational culture. There were keynote speaker led sessions, facilitated workshops, seminars and practical activities. 

The conference offered amazing networking opportunities, and a chance to share learning in a unique environment. Our conference dinner was hosted at the historic Stirling Castle.


Waterloo University, Ontario Canada, 2015

Driving Lean Change in Higher Education
10th & 11th September 2015


"A great opportunity to be with so many other people, all passionate about using lean to transform their Universities"
"Super well managed, and amazing hospitality from all the team"
"Great workshops, useful tools, I learnt so much"
"A monumental success"

Bringing together delegates from four continents with diverse approaches to lean, around a theme of building connections to enable change, the event was symbolised by the conference image (above) of circles and curves. These represent movement and change, with the size and density of the circles altering to represent change both large and small in many directions.



Cardiff University, Wales UK, 2014

Improving the Student Experience

13th & 14th November 2014



"epic event" "brilliant speakers" "fantastic" 
"Inspirational, thought provoking & relevant" 
“Professional organisation by the Cardiff team, relevant and engaging workshops and speakers. Just doesn't get any better than this”

Overview:
Hosted by Cardiff's Lean University team this is a two-day event offering lectures, master-classes and workshops. 
The conference theme of Improving the Student Experience is more relevant than ever before against a background of decreasing funding and increasing expectations.

Keynote speaker, Professor Sir Keith Burnett, Vice-Chancellor of University of Sheffield.


Coventry University, School of Engineering

10 September 2013

This one day conference included retrospectives from four university's lean initiatives, a keynote case study around lean improvements to the exam board process in Coventry University, and parallel workshops on topics that included "A Lean University - Where to start and how to evolve your approach", Benefits Realisation, Handling difficult questions, and "A3 - No Brainer Decision Making". It closed with a session completing a SWOT analysis on the future vision for lean thinking in HE, which in part led to the formation of the Lean HE Hub.