The LEAN Registry | AUA Quick reads

Kate Moss MAUA | CAS Team Leader | University of Central Lancashire

Daring to be different: has LEAN changed more than just the process?

We’ve all heard the mantra about “doing more with less”. It’s been bandied around a lot in the decade since the financial crisis hit in 2008. Budget cuts, restructures, voluntary severance schemes, pension deficits, capped tuition fees, uncapped student numbers…every time, “do more with less”.

The message started to change in 2018 for me, instead of being ‘more with less’, it was ‘do different, and better’. Still doing more with less, yes, but different and better. What a challenge! How? Where do you start?

Around that time, I was invited to attend a 5 day LEAN training course. I’d heard of LEAN training before – with interesting (disastrous?) results! I had also just completed an apprenticeship in leadership and management, which had briefly covered LEAN as a project methodology. To tell the truth, I was sceptical about the whole thing.

Day 1 saw about 15 of my colleagues from across the University and I, squashed into a local hotel conference room (designed for 12 I’m sure), and my eyes were well and truly opened! Things were different – we were in a hotel conference room for a start, and not a spare dingy classroom in the back end of campus! The facilitator (external!) was great. She must have said that key phrase that had been challenging me about 50 times that day – ‘Do it Differently!’.

Days 2-4 and the phrase kept cropping up – doing different. And of course, LEAN thinking is all about continuous process improvement. Do things better.

What had changed? It felt for the first time that UCLAN’s Academic Registry had considered the ‘below the water’ aspects of the LEAN iceberg – strategy and alignment, leadership, behaviour and engagement – and had committed to these in order to facilitate and deliver successful, sustainable and collaborative transformation, in turn, supporting staff to ‘do different and better’.

Two years on, and we’re still going. Still transforming, still collaborating. Doing differently and better (with less..) and we’re excited to tell you about it.

411: The LEAN Registry is a working session at the AUA Annual Conference and Exhibition 2020. In these mini blogs, our session speakers talk about the journey that lead to this point. You can view the whole conference programme here.

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