Lean HE Conference 2016 – Day 2 AM

Notes from the Lean HE Conference ‘People, Culture and Lean in Higher Education’ 1-3 November 2016 held at the University of Stirling

Lean in HE: Learning from Education and Beyond

Professor Peter Hines

Lean is about eliminating waste:

  • Muda: waste
  • Mura: unevenness
  • Muri: overburden

Cyclical services, such as ours driven by academic or financial years, struggle particularly with Mura.

Real Lean is both Respect for People AND Continuous Improvement

Lean maturity can be developed in three broad stages:

  • Stage 1 is about tools
  • Stage 2 is about systems
  • Stage 3 is about a culture of continuous improvement please involving the whole organisation

Stage 1 Lean: Tools (Cardiff University)

Stage 1 Lean is about introducing tools and attempting to get a level of control.

Discusses the Lean programme established at Cardiff University looking at strategy, end to end processes and continuous improvement. Introduces the Lean Iceberg Model (Hines et al, 2008). Tools, techniques and processes are visible above the waterline and were working well. Strategy, alignment, leadership, behaviour and engagement are enabling under the waterline and weren’t working so well, particularly with academic leaders.

Stage 2 Lean: System (Kangan TAFE)

Stage 2 Lean adds system based change to use of tools and techniques. Move from Lean being a project based approach, on a process by process basis, to Lean being how we run the organisation. The hurdle for achieving this is leadership.

Kangan TAFE is a technical college in Melbourne. Leaders were trained in Lean. As part of their strategy they wanted to be a lean enterprise by 2018. Established 5 principles:

  1. Simple
  2. Accessible
  3. Visible
  4. Current
  5. Standardised

Based very much on Gemba. If a leader wanted a report from a department they go and see and have a conversation rather than send an email and ask for a report. 85 boards throughout the organisation were used for visual management. Leaders take weekly visual management walks to discuss the boards with staff. All departments undertake bi-annual 5S events to improve their workplace.

Stage 3 Lean: Culture of Continuous Improvement (Abbott)

Most of us take quite a technical (tools and systems based) approach to Lean. The other direction is via leadership and change management. Both have their pros and cons but by seeing these as two directions towards Lean we can end up with a functional and cultural gap.

  • plan: behavioural and strategy deployment
  • do: continuous improvement
  • check: leadership standard work
  • act: learning and development

Continuous improvement require fully integrated and aligned smart strategy. Leadership standard work involves understanding the role and responsibility of everyone at every level of the organisation and measuring/rewarding them on behaviours not just results.

The difficulty is that Stage 2 and Stage 3 don’t look that different; but if you go there they feel very different.

Some things Abbott use:

  • Behavioural deployment: established and published a set of leader and a set of individual contribution behaviours
  • Strategy deployment: established and published integrated site strategy map
  • Cultural enablers and continuous improvement: behaviours, systems and tools joined in a seamless approach
  • Performance and results: visual management boards in common spaces (including lag, lead and behavioural indicators)
  • Leader standard work: visual T card board in a common location

All of this is then cascaded locally into teams who:

  • define and design what hey need to do to win
  • measure whether they are winning or losing
  • identify what could be done to improve
  • visual recognition

Last example for learning and development is a pull based system developed by O C Tanner that use different learning and teaching delivery from theory to practical as needed. Has huge implications for pedagogy.

Happy People + Lean Processes = Happy Customers

Craig Martin, Glasgow Airport

Glasgow airport now serves 9 million passengers each year with an addition of 1 million passengers over the last 12 months.

The challenge for a passenger customer journey through the airport is many touch points involve staff not directly employed by the airport but by third parties. The only time a passenger might interact directly with an airport employee is during the security check. This may be similar to a university where the student experience, the satisfaction of a student throughout their academic journey, is the responsibility of multiple university departments and external parties.

Glasgow Airport’s approach to delivering service through people:

  • leadership
  • culture
  • employee engagement
  • one campus approach

Culture is simply an aggregate of collective behaviours. Leaders are always on stage, leading through their behaviour.

Quotes Dr Stephen R Covey:

Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers

More than a Job: strong focus on values and attitude

Leadership team developed three core values that underpin their desired culture:

  • care
  • pride
  • passion


“we will never walk by something or someone that needs our attention”


“our customers are the heart of everything we do”


“we all understand the reputation of Glasgow Airport is in the hands of each and everyone.”

Also developing the theme of one campus, one culture covering partner employees not just directly employed employees.

Customer Charter

Glasgow Airport developed a customer charger in consultation with passengers. Efficiency was their passengers third commitment behind safety and friendly, helpful and knowledgeable staff.

Also developed a set of My Golden Rules in consultation with staff.

The Challenge: Security Process

Need to accommodate the additional passengers whilst delivering unrivalled customer service and building a reputation for the fastest and friendliest security operation in the UK. Option 1 included investment in new capacity. Option 2 involved using Lean techniques to optimise flow rates through security for no additional spend. Baseline process mapping and measurement. Increased passenger flow by 14%.

The Challenge: Loganair Punctuality

Collaborative project between airline, handling agent and Glasgow Airport team. Started with process mapping and identified improvements in refuelling, towing and turnaround. Reduced delayed Glasgow Airport can influence by 34%.

For Lean to be effective you have to have quite a mature culture and high level of employee engagement and trust. You can only introduce ideas and technical questions that are appropriate for your culture and level of engagement/maturity. These things do take time and there is no silver bullet, or shortcut to success.


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