As the public finances of all European countries come under intense pressure as a result of the decline in economic activity resulting from the pandemic, the risks that will manifest for universities are all too apparent. But as with every crisis, there are also opportunities to build on the experiences of the so called Great Lockdown.
The near certain financial fallout from the pandemic will drive demand for far reaching changes in key processes in universities. Lean thinking is a collection of principles and methods to maximise value whilst minimising waste. What are the key tenets of Lean and what needs to be done to adopt them?
After serving 10 years as King's College London's Senior Vice-president Operations & College Secretary, Ian now holds a portfolio of roles including Strategy Consultant for HUMANE. Prior to King's, he held similar chief operating officer roles at City University London and before that, the University of Adelaide. The first part of his career was in the Australian Public Service where he rose early on to become a member of the Senior Executive Service.
Ian is also an experienced non-executive having served on the Board of King's Health Partners, the Council of Governors of an NHS Foundation Trust, and the audit committee of the British Academy. He is currently an independent non-executive member of BPP University’s Academic Council.
LEAN is a set of tools & techniques combined with cultural changes that aims at reducing waste and empowering people in an organization. The aim is to constantly focus on the customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction and organizational profitability, or other non-financial measures of success.
But this is not a magic wand… It requires a real cultural change and some key success factors are: Create a burning platform / momentum, in relation to the organization’s business context by identifying the operational issues that will mobilize your teams. Start small, by working on ‘people irritations’ as a way of showing an ability to solve problems quickly and demonstrating a capacity to move forward (and avoid perfect performance diagnosis that lead to… no implementation!)
Ask your CEO or equivalent why they want to start such an initiative and make sure they understand what it means. LEAN is too often seen as a cost reduction approach… which it is not! Financial benefits are only the consequence, not the driver. Think about the customer, or in the case of a university, its students and other stakeholders. Have you ever experienced your university’s core processes? What does it feel like? Put yourself in your ‘customer’s’ shoes.
But above all, LEAN is a journey that is not standard, you’ll need to create your own way… with these principles in mind! Camille Durr has been a consultant and trainer for 15 years. He is passionate about LEAN transformation in service environments and support functions. With experience in LEAN program deployments at international level, he has developed his expertise around LEAN systems that sustain transformation over time. He is also a coach for executives, helping them understand what a LEAN culture represents in an organization.
Camille is a Managing Partner for CUBIK Partners, who are convinced that a humanistic approach can bring real operational performance (and unfortunately not the other way around!).