Post conference syndrome. Thoughts upon arriving home after the LeanHE-conference 2016 in Stirling

posted 7 Nov 2016, 02:35 by Rachel McAssey   [ updated 7 Nov 2016, 07:46 ]

By Svein Are Tjeldnes, UiT Norges arktiske universitet/UiT The Arctic University of Norway

 When I was a youngster I played the drums and timpanis in both a wind band and an orchestra, and several times a year I would get to go on a trip with either one or both. For instance a one week tour from northerly Sortland to Sandefjord (which was really exotic since they had bats flying around) far south, or even longer tours to Italy (talk about exotic for a young Norwegian boy). Or going away on school camp with all your friends and schoolmates, and maybe even a girlfriend (or two).

 All of these travels had one thing in particular in common: to be together with your best friends and the coolest folks, around the clock for many days – and importantly enough: without ANY parents. However, as with all fairytales, suddenly the tour is over and you arrive home. I can still vividly remember the kind of empty feeling that landed on me as soon as the last goodbyes and hugs were done and the door to our house shut behind me.

 Today I am experiencing that same empty feeling. A kind of sorrow and mourning having left that lovely bubble of excitement, buzz, being with good old and new friends, learning and developing together with 170 fantastic lean practitioners at the Lean in Higher Education in Stirling. Can you relate? However, this is not all a bad thing. It simply means that we had a rock’n’roll badass great conference. I am proud to be a part of this particular community. 

 I count myself lucky to know Sue Jennings, Lorna Prince and the rest of the team at University of Stirling, who gave us this amazing conference at the most awesome venue. Including the fabulous dinner at Stirling Castle where I got to go through two first-timers: Wearing a real Kilt (Scotland’s National Tartan) and eating Haggis.

I also feel grateful to Steven Yorkstone, Susanne Clarke and the rest of the Global Lean HE steering committee for discovering me in Waterloo (last year), urging me to become a member of the committee. They are highly competent people, both as lean practitioners and as warm and welcoming persons. The same goes for rugged John Hogg (always going strong in every sense of the word), the lovely Rachel McAssey (chairing the European division with steady hands), smiling Valerie Runyan (taking on the task of next year’s conference in Sydney), energetic Mick Gash (always present with helping hands and thoughts), Pat Browne (ever offering own ideas), devious Mark Robinson (never short of comments), vibrant Vincent Wiegel (always strongly present), Marilyn Thompson (the happy Canadian) and Tammi Sinah (who never seems to run out of energy).

 It would be clearly impossible for me to mention every person I had the luck of meeting these important days in Stirling, but hey – I could go for a few. I absolutely loved talking with and learning from Sean Jackson of Virginia University. His session “Who’s ready for lean” was excellently delivered and thought provoking. I keep thinking that if we had applied some of his ideas and work on change readiness assessment, I know a couple of processes we never would have started at my university.

Most importantly, I have to point out my absolute favorite session among all the high quality contributions delivered at Stirling (A description of them all can be found in the program). Nicola Cairns and Heather Lawrence gave a fully packed room great insight in evidencing benefits and impact of change, even using lean teaching methods. I have declared myself their number one fan.

 This conference did also present new and a bit surprising friendships. I had the pleasure of getting to know and discussing lean with Birute Budreviciene, Sandra Kavalevskyte and Aidis Stukas from Kaunas University of Technology. This was their first LeanHE conference and I trust we will see them again as they were very eager to hold a seminar in Lithuania soon. Best of luck on further exploration of lean. I also, by coincidence, ran into Swedish Karolin Arvidsson from Middlesex University. Please follow through on your idea to bring the team over to Norway and UiT - The Arctic University of Norway for a visit. The same goes for Jose Franken from University of Twente, as we will connect to discuss the build-up of teams.

As the LeanHE conference also puts great weight on networking, it was especially gratifying to finally meet and put a face to many of the twitter-accounts I have been following for a while. For instance Stuart Morris from University of Lincoln. I trust we will be able to explore our collaboration and networking further as it will be easier after meeting in person.

 Eventually I want to thank all of my fellow” MacKenzie” clansmen and -women at our table during the castle dinner. You all made the dinner memorable, thus helping to create this Post Conference Syndrom write-up. Julia H. Sempler, Jeung Lee, Edvins Balodis, Tom Laws, Katrien Verhooge and Anne Wendt: We were a great even when discovering the vegetarian mix-up.

Then - at last but never the least, my team, friends and wonderful colleagues from UiT – the “concept group” responsible for driving change. Julia H. Sempler, Frank Lindrupsen, Karin Eilertsen, Grethe Karlsen and Kjersti Dahle: The five of you are the ones who are designated to help me get over this post conference syndrome, by relentlessly pushing forward with continuous improvement step by step, day by day.

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