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What's Lean Got To Do With It?
Transcript of What's Lean Got To Do With It?
don't get it
Why can't you
Why can't you
Scale & Subject Balance
Health and safety
What's a University?
Create smooth flow
Understand work as process
Respond to pull
Aim for perfection
Understanding the "current state"/"as-is"
Exploring options for change
Communicating the "future state"/"to-be"
Capturing the "future state"/"to-be"
Consulting with stakeholders
Action planning for implementation
Glasgow Caledonian University
University of Abertay Dundee
Queen Margaret University
University of the West of Scotland
Edinburgh Napier University
University of St Andrews
University of Glasgow
University of Aberdeen
University of Edinburgh
University of Strathclyde
University of Dundee
University of Stirling
The Robert Gordon University
University of the Highlands and Islands
Lean in St Andrews: reflecting on 5 years
How to get people on board
The 5th Conference on Lean in HE:
'Transforming the Public Sector'
Engaging Leadership to bring about Cultural Change
That leads me to the first thing I want to talk about, ways to bring about cultural chance through engaging Leadership. The first of those ways being to sell it to leadership. It was my boss, Heidi Fraser-Krauss, who initially sold the idea of Lean to our Quaestor and Factor, Derek Watson, (basically our Executive level director of finance, estates, and residential services). Heidi demonstrated Lean as a way to constructively challenge the “aye, been” culture, and replace it with a culture of continuous improvement. Coming from an NHS background, Derek saw how the magic formula of Lean – eliminate waste, grow value, improve how staff work, increase customer satisfaction – could work in a university environment.
We’ve not always focussed on the positive to try and motivate leadership. Quite early on in our Lean journey we identified that middle managers were blocking change. While front-line staff were often keen to improve, and senior management looking for improvements, we observed that often the mid-level managers were the most invested in the status quo, and reluctant to rock the boat. We, perhaps foolishly, presented this to a meeting of these mid-level managers, and were met with stony silence. For a couple of weeks after that our telephones stayed remarkably quiet, but at least I am now able to say that it’s nothing I haven’t told them to their faces. That said, I am not sure I would recommend such a blunt course of action.
One approach that is to be recommended to motivate leadership is go-see, taking a manager back to the floor to observe the process live and walk along it, often referred to as Gemba. The potential for eyes to be opened to the amount of waste in everyday processes by going and seeing is very powerful. However, in order to make the most from this, both parties have to be comfortable looking quite hard at what they do, and I don’t know about your organisation, but this is something that was quite alien to the way the University worked. Activity on the front line was carefully stage managed up the line of command through various annual reports and committees, and those at the top of the food chain were happy to accept this message.
Cutting through the organisational politics, and people’s sensitivities, can be a real challenge. One idea we had was that it might be worth looking at how the internal mail service works, an area working fine, but where it there might be some opportunity for improvement. When we suggested this to the manager responsible for this area they felt attacked; “Who has been complaining?” was their first response.
Where we have had success is in taking managers to go see other organisations, to observe other places, where there isn’t the same sensitivities around process effectiveness. Looking around the room I would encourage you to find someone in a similar position to yours, or even an entirely different one, and take people to go and see what they do. Oh, and while you are there, we have found a shared drink of an evening has the ability to work wonders.
Where we have had real success in convincing leadership in the University to support Lean is where we have delivered results. When we can prove that a process is better, money is being saved, and that people are more motivated, then we can really convince leadership to take up the Lean cause.
A great example of that is in our University Library. Here we had, as I am reliably informed would be industry standard, an inventory of books awaiting the attention they require to make it onto the shelves of the library. Our books would have taken around 3 months to process, and never mind the DVD collections, some of which had been awaiting shelving for over 20 months. This represented over £200,000 worth of stock. You can imagine our Financial Director quite swiftly thinking of a way he could save £200,000.
A project was commissioned to look at this using Lean. The target was set at same-day arrival of items from loading bay to shelf. We called project for commissioning, and the Director of the Library to introduce the project goals. He promptly described them as… “Lunacy!”. As you may imagine, this ensured myself and my colleagues worked even harder to ensure a good outcome. And after 3 months employing a temporary member of staff, and with a church-roof-thermometer visual control, books were able to enter the loading bay one day, and be on the shelves for browsing the following day. The Library Director was convinced, as was the member of the Executive managing him.
As an aside, the work we did with the Library cataloguing and book processing teams was not unforeseen. The buffer of books had been identified as a problem and solutions presented to the Library already, but action had not stuck, or deresay even started. A bit like a process from one organisation that seemed to be standard practice when an Audit would recommend changes to be made. A plan would be formed to make the recommended changes, and scheduled into the annual report. Invariably a “crisis” would occur, and the plan would not be completed in that first year. The following annual report would note this, and indicate another way the plan would be completed in this second year. Of course by the time the third annual report comes around, and still no actions have been taken, well, circumstances have changed. As such, any actions can be safely and quietly dropped, just in time for the next Audit.
Moving from this expectation that nothing will ever change to always driving things forward is very powerful, my inner philosopher would describe Lean as rather is like an existentialist act of just doing something, learning from it, and making new things happen as a result.
Hollyrood Lean Goverment Conference 2011
Build personal relationships at all levels
How many people?
Introductory activity (warm-up)
Small group/pair discussion
Excercises to generate feedback
Feedback to the group
Reflection on learning
When has there been somene not on board?
When have I not been on board?
How have I been convinced to come on board?
What has worked convincing others to come on board?
What does it mean to be "on-board"
On or off board?
... it's now
things to do are
For Wardens investigating damages when no-one owns up...
When Summer Guests leave...
... Estates can
fix things quickly
When students arrive...
When damage happens when students are around...
know what to do
are kept in the loop
know what to expect
When students leave...
... action is taken
When something proper mingin' happens
...we can deal with it
Creative problem solving
Easy to use web form
and to finance to process any
and to student services to deal with
and to the disciplinary officer to spot
and to the other residence staff who
need to know
and to the student's
Massive bags of value added!