Lean HE is a community of practice, that functions through the voluntary commitment of many staff in Higher Education all around the globe. We don't have any central office, budget, or staffing. We don't hold membership lists, or ask for dues. All the work that is done under the Lean HE brand is offered without charge or not for profit.

We deliberately don't fit the same mould as many organisations, we find that this lets us focus on what we are really here for.

This page outlines the formal nature of our organisation, as well as providing information about how we award our international conference, how we approach "membership" (given that we are not a membership organisation), includes our statement on ethics and conduct, how we work with consultancy organisations, and a guide to the roles and responsibilities of our formal governing bodies.


Lean HE aims to ensure that continuous improvement philosophies within Higher Education (HE) are themselves always improving. We do this for the good of all those whom HE serves.


Lean HE will promote continuous improvement philosophies in HE through networking, the sharing of best practice and by supporting the delivery of a conference series.

The group’s work is intended to be:

Practice based and action focused; informed by leading thought in order to support applied learning and the implementation of continuous improvement philosophies in HE.

Aimed at staff working within HE who are leading, implementing, or considering continuous improvement philosophies as part of their role.

To achieve this, Lean HE will aim to make the most of the skills of its members and available technology, while operating without a budget of its own.

Vision and Values


To see the culture of HE embrace continuous improvement, bring about increased effectiveness and efficiency and thereby support the transformative power of Higher Education.


Lean HE aims to espouse the following:

respect for people

valuing people’s time and effort

valuing diversity

valuing creativity

acting with integrity

challenging the status quo through continuous improvement

taking an action-orientated approach

taking risks

learning from mistakes

enjoying endeavour

Terms of Reference: Lean HE Global

Type of organisation

Lean HE is open to all, and is formed as a Non-Incorporated Association, governed by the Lean HE Global Steering Group.

Lean HE consists of three Continental Divisions, Lean HE Americas, Lean HE Australasia and Lean HE Europe, and reporting to these a number of local Networks.


Lean HE takes an interest in issues of the practical application of continuous improvement methodologies in Higher Education, according to it’s Purpose, Vision, Mission and Values.


The global steering group has the authority to:

  • Use its name, communication and branding in support of its Purpose, Vision, Mission and Values

  • Request that as a condition of membership of the steering group, all steering group members abide by decisions properly made by this committee

  • Award an annual international conference

The continental divisions have the authority to:

    • Use their name, communication and branding in support of its Purpose, Vision, Mission and Values

    • Organise an appropriate schedule events for their region

      • These are to be open to all

      • And should be scheduled outside of the October, November and December

Continental Divisions will have additional terms of reference to support their work.


The global steering group is responsible for reporting in two ways:

  1. Though an annual report

    • For example hosted on the committee website and promoted through social media and steering group members’ networks

  2. Through a verbal report

    • For example presented at the annual conference

Continental Divisional Chairs are responsible for their activity in their region, and report on this to the global steering group.

Meeting arrangements

At a minimum the committee shall meet as described below:

  1. An annual general meeting is to be held at the annual supported conference, which should include the

    • formal announcement of the next year's main conference date and location

  2. In between annual general meetings there should be at least one additional meeting of the global steering group in order to

    • Receive conference proposals and

    • Review the committee terms of reference

    • Discuss and publish matters of relevance

It is expected that:

  • Meetings should be action focused, use teleconferencing as appropriate and be kept to a minimum

  • Steering group members should operate outside committee meetings to discuss relevant matters, noting actions through electronic communication

  • Where committee decision making is required, this may be conducted outside of formal meetings through electronic voting, at the discretion of the secretary

Resources and budget

The Lean HE will operate without a budget, it will not make charge for membership and will distribute any content free of charge where possible.

  • The costs of attending steering group meetings additionally to the annual conference, and steering group membership more generally, will be borne by each steering group member’s home institution

  • Any costs for meetings as part of the annual conference will be discussed and agreed with the host conference

  • Where necessary costs are required, the steering group will approach host universities for funding to cover these, but, the steering group will work to ensure these costs are minimal

    • For example this may include costs of domain name registration and web hosting


These are reviewed annually at our AGM.

International Conference

The conference is intended to enable the community of lean practitioners to meet in person, in order to further the purpose and vision of Lean HE. The conference series alternates between continental divisions.

The date of international conference should be congruent with the dates of previous conferences from mid to late October.

Conferences are awarded by the global steering group to hosts, on the recommendation of the relevant continental division, where they feel the organisers best meet the following principles:

    • Alignment - to the vision mission and purpose of Lean HE

    • Commitment - to an appropriate methodology or approach

    • Confidence - in regards to the nature and quality of work being undertaken at a good institutional level and/or excellent initiative level and/or a superstar individual level

    • Involvement - they have demonstrated an active commitment and contribution to the lean community in universities

    • Practical ability - with the resources and location to host

    • Sustainability - we can be confident they can give the long term commitment needed to delivering the event and be active as part of the steering group

    • Enthusiasm - they bring a positive energy

It is hoped that conference hosts can use the event to build a positive legacy within their institution.

In order to ensure the conference is as accessible as possible for delegates hosts are expected to run the event conference on a not-for-profit basis.


Lean HE is open to all staff in HE, academic and non-academic, although it’s focus is on supporting improvement practice in HE. Lean HE and its Continental Divisions maintain no membership list (although organisations working with Lean HE, for example conference hosts may do so, under their own authority).

Steering Group Membership

It is expected that all steering group members are employed in HE, and have a remit for the practice of implementing improvement methodologies, be that lean, six sigma, or similar. Membership of the steering group is aimed to be drawn as widely as possible.

Steering Group membership is a voluntary commitment, Lean HE does not operate with any finances; as such Lean HE cannot pay any expenses or make remuneration for these roles. Successful members of the steering group are supported by their institutions to attend our annual conference and AGM in person, and are able to attend regular webinars and additional face to face events throughout the year.

They each commit to sharing their knowledge for the good of the sector.

For more information about roles and responsibilities see the matrices at the foot of this page.

Statement on Ethics and Conduct

Lean HE expects members of our steering groups and attendees at events to demonstrate the highest standards of ethics and conduct at all times.

Lean HE is founded on the principle of respect for people. We understand that respect for people includes (but not limited to): valuing people’s time and effort, valuing diversity, valuing creativity, and acting with integrity.

The people and organisations we work with eg; our event hosts, contributors and steering group members, are selected reflecting their alignment with the purpose and values of Lean HE.

Following best practice, we would hope that in the first instance concerns can be dealt with at the most informal level appropriate, given the nature of any concern.


Participants (including contributors etc) at events should be aware that they are subject to the policies of the host institution. Any concerns regarding the conduct of a participant at a Lean HE event should be directed to the event organiser in the first instance, who will follow their policies and procedures as appropriate.

Steering group members

All members of steering groups are invited to serve Lean HE on behalf of their institutions. Any concerns around the conduct of a steering group member should be referred to an appropriately senior steering group member. Following due process, should it be clear that a steering group member is failing to uphold the values of Lean HE they will dismissed from their role.

If appropriate matters will be formally referred to an officer of suitable seniority at the individuals home institution.

Working with Consultancy Services

We are a not for profit / non-commercial community, with a focus on peer support within Higher Education, to this end our organising committees are made up of Lean and Continuous Improvement practitioners employed by Universities to embed these principles within their home institution and the sector.

While we do benefit greatly from the support of consultants and external speakers, and are always looking for good new ideas, we also do not wish to discriminate for (or against) any consultancy.

We are aware that this may seem unusual to consultancy services, however we have observed a successful way to build a professional consultancy reputation in our Higher Education sector is to get involved in Lean HE events, and become known and "talked about" rather than to give the hard sell, to "talk at". Building relationships slowly and with a strategic focus works well with our community.

We have found that being strictly non-commercial in nature (every event we run is not for profit) leads to a higher level of trust, meaningful conversations, and the sharing of experiences, which in turn supports strategic, mature relationships with consultancies that support the Higher Education sector.

We have a thriving LinkedIn group which all are welcome to join, although posts should be non-commercial in nature, and are moderated.

We do not hold distribution lists centrally due to privacy legislation.

Roles & Responsibilities Matrix

Lean HE Global

Lean HE Continental Division