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Going Lean in Higher Education

LeanTech Conference, Novi Sad

Jelena Gledic

on 14 September 2012

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Transcript of Going Lean in Higher Education

Jasmina Nikolic & Jelena Gledic Going Lean in Higher Education Lack of strategies needed to respond to increasingly diverse societies in which the underlying constant is change.

“Faced with the complexity of current and future global challenges, higher education has the social responsibility to advance our understanding of multifaceted issues, which involve social, economic, scientific and cultural dimensions and our ability to respond to them. It should lead society in generating global knowledge to address global challenges...”

UNESCO's World Conference on Higher Education 2009

“The most successful institutions will be those that can respond quickest and offer a high-quality education to an international student body.”

Levine, A. E. (2000). The future of colleges: 9 inevitable changes. The Chronicle of Higher Education, Oct 27, pp. 10-11. Challenges of Higher Education (HE) Today HE institutions must develop their capacity for change and transform their strategies, from constructed-beforehand to permanently-in-construction. sharing responsibility and requests/needs of:

teachers / students / parents / future employers

developing life & work management skills:

value detection, prioritization, negotiation, quality control, doing more with less
jointly breaking requests into doable tasks

acknowledging and applying new cognitive skills:

searching, filtering, hyper-linking, multi-tasking, sharing etc. Creating Incubators for the Real World by applying: a variation of work methodologies and strategies created in the world of software development and lean/just-in-time production industries focused on promoting high rates of improvement - AGILE All principles underlying agility as a paradigm can be applied to HE in all essential phases of the education/learning process:

organisational and communication management, learning management
and curriculum design.

Highly adaptive, truly international, massive open online courses such as Udacity already work in the best agile, growth-oriented manner:

iteratively and incrementally through constant real-time cycles of inspection and adaptation.

Agility fosters creating a truly global and international HE model with the most appropriate common values and work ethics. Being Agile Basic principles quick and regular adaptation to changing circumstances

frequent/iterative delivery


cross-functional teams

motivated individuals


time boxing

transparency “We value:
individuals and interactions over processes and tools,
working software over comprehensive documentation,
customer collaboration over contract negotiation,
responding to change over following a plan.
That is, while there is value in the items on the right,
we value the items on the left more.”

Manifesto for Agile Software Development
Agile Alliance, 2001
published at http://agilemanifesto.org/ Scrum is an iterative and incremental agile development method conceived for managing software projects and product development, first described and implemented in the early 1990s. Its main characteristics are:

small teams (organisation is split into small, cross-functional, heterogeneous, often geographically distributed, self-organising teams)
that spend defined periods of time (time-boxed iterations called sprints)
working in different settings (both virtual and physical space) and time zones
on tasks (small, concrete deliverables, sorted by priority in the visible backlog)
that support building a product increment (relevant to the customer)
presented to the customer and stakeholders to elicit feedback (and influence further development).

The method includes pre-defined core and auxiliary roles
Meetings are strictly pragmatic and have set guidelines Various methods collectively known as agile promote the values of the agile manifesto. They allow project teams to adapt working practices according to the needs of individual projects/tasks, and provide a shared set of values that allow even the most diverse teams to thrive in working towards a common goal. Agile methods can be supported by innovative open communication techniques based on a core assumption that knowledge, wisdom and responsibility of the group are greater in non-hierarchical but structured settings.

Open Space Technology:

Participants create and manage their own agenda of parallel working sessions around a central theme of strategic importance.

Highly scalable and adaptable

Can last from two hours to several days

Can host from dozen to thousands participants

Can be equally used in physical and virtual space

Works particularly well in moving from planning to action Kanban is a concept related to lean and just-in-time production. It is a scheduling system devised by Toyota in the 50s that helps determine the production process.
Kanban uses cards to visualise the work flow:

the work is split into pieces, each item is written on a card and put on the wall - today in the online software

It limits work in progress
Its efficiency is based on frequent delivery and prioritization
It provides transparency in communication, workflow, and effects of (in)actions. More prescriptive agile methodologies such as Scrum could be implemented at the managerial level, allowing a smooth transition from the existing strict, closed hierarchies through team roles, while Kanban could be introduced at the level of communication and organisational management and used for curriculum design. Supporting Techniques The law of two feet): “if [...] you find yourself in any situation where you are neither learning nor contributing, use your two feet, go someplace else.”

Owen, H. (2008)
Open Space Technology: A User's Guide.
SF: Berret-Koehler Publishers. TEMPUS IV family of EU projects in Serbia (2010-2013)

Main goal: harmonizing existing university language degree programs and developing new master degrees at a national level

Consortium: more than 150 professionals from 18 public, private and governmental institutions from 6 countries working in distributed international Scrum teams

Cooperation is based on the REFLESS Agile Manifesto

Open Space - used for making action plans

Scum - used for sprint planning, and solving issues

Scrum User stories - used for writing learning outcomes

Kanban - used daily to schedule and prioritize work and to communicate in real time and transparently
(emails and telephone calls are discouraged)

http://refless.rs/ Agile Reform in Higher Education - Reforming Foreign Language Studies in Serbia (REFLESS)
Although most team members were used to traditional HE settings, they quickly and easily accepted the proposed work methods and stated they were more efficient working in an open setting, in the creation of which they actively participated.

The project is successful, especially in building up the community that owns what it produces and feels responsible for it. April 2011, working with student parliaments from Serbia
Open Space organised and facilitated by the Serbian Higher Education Reform Experts team

Goal: encouraging student representatives to solve their political conflicts
and create a backlog of priority tasks necessary for the improvement of the educational situation

Students discussed 18 topics proposed by themselves

They produced a backlog of 34 tasks to be done

Through scrum negotiation methods, they decided on urgent or priority tasks

The task were pulled onto the wall Kanban board into the doing lane

All three tasks were moved to done and the process is ongoing

November 2011, EU students’ representatives gathering in Serbia
Open Space for creating a joint declaration
on future challenges and perspective of the Bologna process

The declaration was successfully created and then adopted by the Serbian Parliament.

http://bit.ly/CaseStudyOS Agile Student Representation At the start of each process, different representative bodies and stakeholders were believed to have irreconcilable interests and values, but through agile negotiations and communication they managed to reach common goals. Through agile, HE can transform in many ways: Agile philosophy enables the education community to envision a new, truly international system of education - an agile model of education policies, instructional design, curriculum development and institutional management By providing the framework for dignifying harmonization of backgrounds, worldviews, needs and ideas of local and international students, staff and other stakeholders, agilily leads to relevant and truly international HE, as well as the advancement of knowledge essential to engendering progress and true democratic participation. usable product delivered
all stakeholders delighted The concept of agile emerged with the shift from mass production to economy based on constantly evolving technology, knowledge and market. Technology has rendered customization of products and services an affordable reality. From high assurance and strict standards culture set to reduce the unknown to rapid and iterative production of small chunks of value that will inform, and thus control the unknown future, and embrace the diverse present (by tailoring the Scrum method). From uncommunicated and prescribed processes to using values to empower individuals to work in, putting trust in them (by applying agile ethos). From reductionist, pre-defined structures of independent and inflexible units and curricula to holistic cross-functional self-responsible teams and modular, customized curricula (by using Kanban and Scrum). From representational to inclusive participation and communication (by using Open Space). From standardized, long-lived outcomes to individualized, transitory and adaptable outcomes (by using Scrum artifacts such as User stories). From hierarchical relations, based on control and tradition, to heterarchical relations, based on competence and assessment (by introducing Scrum roles). From teaching/learning to problem solving (by introducing Scrum roles and practices such as value negotiation). From a criticizing culture to a self-improving culture (by self and peer-assessment and real-world feedback). Although the agile era is at an early stage, the very nature of an approach based on continual re-prioritization of requirements ensures success of the long-term life cycle, even in unpredictable and turbulent environments. Focusing the work on delighting the client led to working in self-organized teams (most likely to generate continuous innovation) and client-driven iterations, since positive outcomes are best achieved by the successive approximations of perceived client needs. The fundamental concept of product has changed - it has become a negotiable, i.e. iteratively fulfilling changing requirements. Client-driven iterations focus on delivering value (through constant prioritization) by the end of each iteration. They enable frequent client feedback. Self-organising teams that work iteratively both enable and require radical transparency which also assists them in improving their performance. An underlying prerequisite of all of these principles is interactive communication Challenges in Higher Education
Agile/Lean Philosophy
Advantages for Higher Education
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