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

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 in February 2019.

Over the last 12 months participants of the Midlands and North Group have been busy sharing and learning…

posted 15 Oct 2018, 05:21 by Gretel Stonebridge   [ updated 17 Oct 2018, 01:01 ]

In November 2017 Sheffield Hallam hosted a seminar on Continuous Improvement: A journey from inception to reality in 18 months. It 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.

In March 2018 University of Leicester ran a session: Communications and Visibility - What's the Best Approach for Continuous Improvement/Lean Teams? 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... The outcome we overwhelmingly agreed with her and that we get known for what we have done not what we can do!

In July 2018 Leeds hosted a seminar: Exploring Lean Competencies in Higher Education. At this session we explored the “anatomy” of a Lean Practitioner and discussed a development journey for someone working in continuous improvement/lean.

On November 7, hosted by the University of Leeds, the Group is contributing to the UK Study Tour for colleagues involved in Lean/Continuous Improvement  in international institutions. One of the themes we will be unpacking is sharing the varied approaches some of the UK universities have and then all have a discussion to share successes and learning on how to embed approaches in organisations. It will be interesting to hear whether there are marked differences or similarities.

Lean HE (UK) North & Midlands Group - Exploring Demand and Capacity in Higher Education

posted 15 Oct 2018, 04:56 by Gretel Stonebridge   [ updated 9 Jan 2019, 04:33 ]

The next networking event will be held on  Tuesday 12th February 2019 at Newcastle University. The theme for this event is Demand and Capacity and will explore how the principles can be applied within Higher Education. The event will include case studies and interactive discussion which will draw on the knowledge and expertise of participants.

The event will start with lunch at 12 noon and end at 3 p.m. with a further chance to network.  To book a place please click https://www.eventbrite.com/e/lean-he-uknorth-midlands-networking-group-exploring-demand-and-capacity-in-he-tickets-53344861918

If you  have any queries please contact hilary.whitaker@newcastle.ac.uk.


posted 31 Jul 2018, 05:25 by Gretel Stonebridge

Subscribing to it

You might be interested in joining this to help keep up to date with what others are doing. You can use this list to ask questions to help you in your daily lean/continuous improvement life.  You will also receive interesting emails about lean in HE but only from those subscribed on the list!

  • Click to homepage https://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/

  • Click on “Groups” in the grey bar near the top


  • Fill in your name and email address. If you are new to JISCMail, it may be best to leave the settings as they are by default

  • Click on the “Subscribe (groupname)” button

  • You will then get confirmation you are subscribed

Sending an email to the list

Tromsø Tips

posted 14 Jun 2018, 01:44 by Rachel McAssey   [ updated 14 Jun 2018, 01:52 ]

Last week, we held our Lean HE(Europe) committee meeting at UIT in Tromsø. We held the formal meeting in the morning and this was followed by an afternoon workshop exploring measuring benefits.


The formal committee meeting was predominantly focused on plans and support for the Lean HE conference which will be held in Tromsø later this year. I am incredibly excited about the conference, the team at UIT will be sending out further information about the schedule and speakers over the next month or so.


This was my first trip to Tromsø, so I thought I’d share a couple of tips with you all.


·     Most places seem to be cash free, so you will not need to bring much currency with you.

·     There are a growing number of souvenier shops in Tromsø, in recognition of the popular tourist industry. This means that flights and hotels are also popular. I recommend that you book both your flight and hotel and soon as possible.

·     Flights to Tromsø from the UK are very reasonably priced. My flight was actually cheaper than my train fare to the Stirling conference in 2016. 

·     It is likely to be cold in October/ November time (it is in the arctic circle after all). Bring warm clothes for outdoors, you may wish to wear layers because inside it will be toasty warm.

·     There are lots of hairdressing shops in Tromsø – so we will all have the opportunity to have great hair during the conference.

·     Tromsø residents rarely make eye contact with you, however do not mistake this for coldness. If you need assistance just ask –people are incredibly helpful.

·     Tromsø is an amazing city with some awesome scenery, you will not be disappointed.


I look forward to seeing many of you at the conference. Just in case you haven’t booked yet – here’s the link www.uit.no/leanhe2018

Lean HE (UK) North & Midlands Group - Exploring Lean Competencies in Higher Education 17 July University of Leeds

posted 7 Jun 2018, 04:39 by Gretel Stonebridge

The theme for this session is competencies and we will be exploring the traits, skills, qualifications and experiences of a Lean practitioner within a higher education environment. This will be an interactive session where we hope to draw on knowledge and expertise from across the sector and we will specifically focus on the following questions:

                 How does a newly trained Lean "improver" progress in their training and experiences to 'graduate' as a "practitioner"?

                 What would a development journey for a lean practitioner look like? What are the milestones and how do they know they are on a journey?

                 Is hands on experience enough or is some formal appraisal required?

                 How are individuals identified as a person capable of being a Lean practitioner? We will also explore the range of routes that lead into these roles e.g. HR, IT, training, HE administration. 

We are hoping as many people from across the sector can attend so that we can share ideas and start to build a picture of the various experiences and career pathways we have in the sector.  Information from this session will help inform how we develop the Lean HE North and Midlands network, in particular to help shape our seminars going forward and also explore whether we can share training and development opportunities across the sector.

Lunch is provided and there is the opportunity to network.  Seminar starts 12.45 and ends 3.30 pm.

 To book you place click on this link:


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.

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