Lean HE Europe

Check here for information, news and publications from Lean HE Europe steering group. 
A number of regional groups have been established.
UK (London and south) join LONDON-LEANHE@jiscmail.ac.uk
Emerging networks:
Poland, Netherlands and Scandinavia, drop me an email r.mcassey@sheffield.ac.uk

We will be running a series of free half day seminars during 2018.  Further information will be shared via the Linkedin Group and mailing lists.


We continue to shape the Lean HE Europe Committee. Please do get in contact with Rachel McAssey (Chair) r.mcassey@sheffield.ac.uk if you would be interested in joining the committee. 

We are producing a business model canvas to give an overview of the work of the group.

The next steering committee meeting will be at UIT, Tromso 6 June 2018.

Use of Mood Cards in Workshops

posted 15 May 2018, 13:20 by Rachel McAssey   [ updated 15 May 2018, 13:39 ]

Student Engagement Workshop, Use of Mood Cards

By Katie Moore and Karen Render, Process Improvement Team, Student Lifecycle Programme, University of Leeds

On Weds 9th May the Process Improvement Team held a Student Engagement Workshop with the aim of gathering information about how students are accessing university services and their experiences of doing so. The purpose of the workshop was to “temperature check” the activities already in progress on the Student Lifecycle Programme.


The workshop provided the team with the opportunity to trial the use of mood cards - introduced to us by Karen Render (Process Improvement Analyst) who had used them during her time at North Yorks County Council – to enable participants to describe their experiences through the use of visual metaphors.

The first exercise took the students on a visual tour of student services, linked to when they might encounter them on their ‘student journey’ from application to graduation. They were asked to stick post-it notes on posters to indicate how and where they accessed services, elaborating on the nature of the transaction where they felt necessary. They then selected and placed a mood card in front of the poster to indicate how they felt about the interaction they’d had with the service. The students were then encouraged to share with the group their reasons for choosing those particular cards.  


As this was the first time the team had used mood cards in a workshop, we were unsure how the participants might respond. By their own admission, all of the students at the event said they found verbal communication the most stressful, with the majority preferring to access services online rather than face to face or over the telephone – the data collected in the workshop bore this out. However, something about the mood cards enabled them to speak openly to the group about their experiences; perhaps the instantly recognisable mood of the images allowed the others to empathise, even before hearing the details? Or they enabled individuals to divert the focus away from themselves and on to the image/experience instead? Whatever the psychology behind it, very soon, participants who hadn’t even placed mood cards were chipping in with their own, similar or contrasting, experiences. Success!


In conclusion, mood cards could be a useful tool to facilitate discussion with participants who may be reluctant to verbally express themselves in a group setting. The feedback from the participants of this particular workshop suggests that they enjoyed using the cards, as they transformed what could have been a very drawn-out focus group into a fun and interactive exercise.

21 March 2018 University of Leicester hosted the 4th Lean HE North and Midlands Regional Group Seminar: Communications and Visibility - What's the Best Approach for Continuous Improvement/Lean Teams?

posted 22 Mar 2018, 06:36 by Gretel Stonebridge   [ updated 22 Mar 2018, 06:47 ]

The event was introduced by Professor Zoe Radnor and she talked about the importance of Lean/CI Teams to tell the story again...and again... and again...

About 25 took part and we used the Lotus Flower technique to share ideas. We generated 108 of them. There was a lot of discussion and "take away ideas" from the event. One of the questions we started and ended with was "How much do we get known because of what we have done rather than say what we do?" We overwhelmingly agreed we get known for what we have done and building on the talk from Professor Zoe Radnor we agreed we have to make sure we keep telling that story.


Sheffield Hallam University (SHU) hosted the third Lean HE North & Midlands Seminar in November 2018 on the subject: Continuous Improvement: A journey from inception to reality in 18 months.

posted 22 Mar 2018, 06:12 by Gretel Stonebridge

Around 30 people attended with 12 HEI’s represented (including Dr Justyna Maciag from Jagiellonian University in Krakow) plus colleagues from Further Education, industry, private companies and the NHS. The seminar consisted of a presentation about SHU’s journey to develop their Continuous Improvement Service, with an interactive workshop element that showcased a couple of tools and techniques that SHU have found work really well for their service (Personas and an alternative approach to SIPOC).

The seminar received excellent feedback from attendees, both on the day and online following the event – some highlights include:


  • “I found the workshop really informative and inspirational – it was great to meet such a great bunch of knowledgeable people and to learn from your experience”

  • “The level of professionalism shown today was impressive – you’ve delivered better training than we’ve received from commercial providers”

  • “I could bring my manufacturing clients to be trained by you and it would blow their minds – and they have very high standards. You are a class act”

  • “What a brilliant continuous improvement story”

Edinburgh Universities Lean Coaching Circle

posted 12 Mar 2018, 08:58 by Rachel McAssey


Richard Arkless

Senior Business Analyst

Student Systems Partnership

University of Edinburgh

Email: richard.arkless@ed.ac.uk

Back in 2016 a group of us from the University of Edinburgh attended the Lean HE conference in Stirling. A mixture of old and new to Lean, we all left the event full of inspiration and ready to put our ideas into practice when got back to work. For me though, came the familiar story of my day job getting in the way and stalling my initial flurry of enthusiasm and before I knew it a year had gone by!  But importantly, over this period that initial energy didn't completely vanish and Lean was always there at the back of mind.  


So, finally I resolved to 'do something'!  I was aware that I worked locally to Steve Yorkstone (who I knew was something of a Lean HE guru) and decided to get in touch to see if could help put some structure around the Lean ideas I had been brewing since conference.  We met for coffee and I explained that part of what I wanted to do was tap into enthusiasm I had seen from the conference attendees and somehow harness this. Steve suggested a Lean Coaching Circle that we could open up to colleagues working at universities in the Edinburgh area.  


This seemed like an excellent and uncomplicated idea I could put into practice immediately.  Invites went out to local colleagues we knew had an interest in Lean and in December 2017 we had our inaugural meeting.  


We decided on a simple format, and used part of our first session to come up with a straight forward terms of reference.


The format of our sessions:

·  Frequency - We would meet for a couple of hours, every couple of months and review this after a few sessions.

·  Size - We are currently a group of 10 and will stick to this size for the first few sessions while we find our feet.

We aim to do the following in each session:

·  Update - each member will have the opportunity to give a progress report 

·  Lean techniques - each session an example of a lean tool or lean thinking will be explored

·  Hot seat discussions (2/3 each meeting for about 20 minutes each) -  The person in the hot seat shares a problem which is then discussed with the group who will hopefully come up with suggestions for changes or improvement.  Those in the hot seat will then feedback at the next meet up. 

·  Close - the group will reflect on how the session went.


We also agreed to:

·  Treat everything discussed in the session as confidential.

·  Behave appropriately, as we would all expect to in our day jobs.

·  Be there for the full session.

·  Be prepared to contribute. Bring a problem and/or a success to share. 

·  Take part in the hot seat discussions.

It's early days, but we’ve have had two sessions so far and feedback has been very positive and everyone wants to carry on.  In true Lean fashion we plan to keep reviewing and improving the format and possibly expand the group. We're also going to track the improvements we make where we can measure the benefits.


So, if you're in HE in the Edinburgh area, and interested in getting involved, please get in touch.

The III Seminar “Lean Higher Education” for Polish universities

posted 7 Mar 2018, 08:50 by Rachel McAssey   [ updated 7 Mar 2018, 08:55 ]

On the 13th of February the III Seminar “Lean Higher Education” was organised in Institute of Public Affairs in the Jagiellonian University in Cracow. The title was: Improving processes in a university. The issues were related to: tools of improving processes (the Pareto Diagram and Ishikawa Chart - workshop), supporting the Lean projects by IT tools (Microsoft 365 – workshop), the example of redesigning process by using a VSM  (on example of awarding a Ph.D.), presentation of initial results of international project on Lean Culture in a university (dr Justyna Maciąg). The meeting was closed by an interesting discussion on barriers and benefits of implementation a process approach and Lean concept in the polish universities. The next meeting is planned on September. The host university is the  Medical University in Łódź.

Lean HE (Europe) Steering Group meeting - Feb 2018

posted 7 Mar 2018, 08:48 by Rachel McAssey

Update from the Lean HE Steering Group


Last week held our first meeting of 2018. The primary focus of the meeting was receiving an update on the Lean HE Conference preparation process.  This will be held in Tromso this year www.uit.no/leanhe2018. The Steering Group is committed to supporting our colleagues at UIT, and are very impressed with the team's hard work and dedication thus far. It is going to be an amazing conference: the call for proposals is also live for people to submit ideas for conference presentations.


Other items of business included our support for networks within Europe: the UK has a number of regional groups that have seminars and events planned for 2018, there has already been another seminar hosted in Poland. We would love to hear about other activities that are happening in Europe.


In addition, the group continues to develop a Lean maturity model and to collaborate with other groups to support and enhance the core values of Lean HE.

Lean HE North and Midlands Regional Group: Communications and Visibility - What's the Best Approach for Continuous Improvement/Lean Teams?

posted 14 Feb 2018, 03:17 by Gretel Stonebridge

We are all experts in lean, but are not experts in communications and visibility. How do we decide what we do in terms of making ourselves visible, and how do we balance ‘doing the work’ with communicating about the work we are doing? How do our organisations know about who we are and what we do? What would happen to us if no-one ever knew? This event is about sharing what we are doing and supporting each other.

This seminar is hosted by University of Leicester if you are interested in coming along please book on by following this link:

Lean HE Europe - Annual Report

posted 16 Oct 2017, 00:27 by Rachel McAssey   [ updated 26 Oct 2017, 12:22 ]

The European Continental Division has been active this year and there’s a real sense of enthusiasm building as previously isolated practitioners are making contact.

There are two formally established regional groups within the UK, with approximately 80 people engaging in seminars and meetings, the network in Scotland continues to be active.

The European group has held two formal seminars to date, and are producing a paper on lean maturity within the sector.

We are focusing on developing active networks in Poland (two seminars have been held), Scandinavia – building up a network and the Netherlands.

Our challenge for next year is to continue to focus on the three emerging European networks and produce at least one further paper to benefit the lean HE community.

We are planning to have three seminars in three regionally accessible locations and to produce more articles that will be published via the Efficiency Exchange. We will also be supporting the 2018 conference that will be held in Europe. If you are from Europe, make sure you are a member of the LinkedIn Lean HE group and follow #LeanHEEurope on twitter for more details.

Lean HE UK Southern Regional Group


28 delegates from 13 different Universities attended the Southern network group meeting on October 4th. Hosted by Middlesex University, the day provided some valuable and informative networking together with two main agenda items for exploration.


The first session, Value for Money, was led by James Kennedy, CFO at Middlesex.   James fronted  a very informative discussion as delegates considered the role of continuous improvement and lean practitioners in contributing to the value for money agenda , conscious of both Hefce and individual institutions  expectations. James presented a provoking account of his expectations as a CFO, with a  clear focus on the need to measure contributing benefits in the context of the financial  environment the sector is working within.  The session was additionally contextualised by the Middlesex University approach to measuring benefits.


In contrast to this session the afternoon had a very different feel. Amy Bray, Director of Strategic Change at Christ Church Canterbury together with Judy Walker, Consultant, NEL Healthcare, led a session entitled  “After Action Review: enabling continuous improvement through reflection and learning”. Sharing this very useful tool which was  new to many and a refresher to others, was additionally beneficial from sharing experiences from outside the sector.  


Feedback from both sessions and the whole day was very  positive, bringing together both the hard benefits focused approach with the human side of change for practitioners.


The group will hold two further network sessions this year and a range of topics, offers of sharing tools and case studies have been gathered as well as host institutions. All in all a very positive and energising day.

Lean HE UK North and Midlands Regional Group

Nottingham University hosted a seminar on Coaching Kata in May and we are looking forward to Sheffield Hallam's seminar on Creating a CI Service later in the year.

The steering group was formed in January 2017 and we continue to go from strength to strength building a network with both formal seminars and informal support and sharing.

The second seminar about Lean Higher Education for Polish universities

posted 2 Oct 2017, 00:02 by Rachel McAssey

The second meeting about Lean Higher Education for Polish universities  was organized at 13 of September in the Institute of Public Affairs in the Jagiellonian University in Cracow (Kraków). Participants came from different cities in Poland Wrocław, Łódź, Bydgoszcz and Kraków.

Topics of our seminar included: SIPOC and SOP, Kanban and Kaizen in a university. We organized the trainings and workshops. The participant shared with their experiences about motivating academics and administration to continuous improvement. The next seminar is planned at February. 

Lean HE (Europe) Steering Group meeting - June 2017

posted 14 Sep 2017, 10:58 by Rachel McAssey

The Lean HE European Steering Group meeting in June hosted by Vincent Wiegel - from the University of Han NL

The Group  were inspired by Vincent to be very action focused and we spent the day working on key topics - using post-it notes and a democratic selection process to choose the topics we would focus on a selection of the topics as follows:-

Lean and HE in 2050 - BOTS/Smart machines/thin processes
Culture and Wellbeing
Lean Maturity - building a model for Higher Education
Lean in smaller organisations
Admin processes and management info.
Lean HE Games
Mental movement - Waste

We split into smaller groups to tackle a sub-set of these topics - for example one group selected Kindness and debated how kindness and lean are aligned.

The group debated how kindness and lean were good companions and narrowed down the focus to embedding kindness into workshop planning and creating a framework to support lean facilitation. This group are working on this and will be ready soon to publish an article.

We also split into smaller teams to come up with ideas to promote Lean in HE, including collaborating to write articles for Linkedin.

Good progress in being made and watch this space to see how we are getting on.

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