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Lean methodologies – Lunchtime UX meetup write up

In the latest user-focused lunchtime meetup, Chris Giles, Lillie McEnteer and Richard Arkless from Student Systems gave an inspiring talk on what they took away from a Lean in Higher Education conference, and Neil Allison gave a presentation on the principles of Lean UX methodology.

Richard’s £18 pint and other stories

In October 2018 Chris, Lillie and Richard attended the annual Lean in Higher Education Conference in Norway (a worthwhile expedition, despite pints costing £18). Lean is a way of thinking that focuses on improving how we work. It brings people together to focus on what is important, creating value for customers.

The team shared the key lessons they took away from the conference and showed us what they have been doing to embed everyday lean and continuous improvement as part of their own work as business analysts in Student Systems and Administration.

I thought it was a very interesting and encouraging talk. If you missed it I highly recommend you check out the slides below.

Richard’s £18 pint and other stories – Lean HE Conference Tromsø 2018  (from Chris Giles, Lillie McEnteer and Richard Arkless)

Chris, Lillie and Richard are in the early stages of building a Lean network and they are eager to share knowledge and experience with others. Thanks for bringing your knowledge and experience to our meetup.

If you want to know about Chris, Lillie and Richard’s work you can email their team.


Challenging assumptions with Lean UX

Neil Allison from the UX Service followed with his presentation. Neil is enthusiastic about practising Lean UX and has given several presentations on the subject.

Partly inspired by the work of Jeff Gothelf (co-author of Lean UX and Sense & Respond), Neil’s talk covered the essence of what Lean UX is all about – making sure that what you’re doing is likely to be a good idea before you put too much effort into it. He also emphasised the significance of Lean UX hypothesis statements.

I thought the talk was really captivating. Neil’s a great communicator (although, some of his references went over my head- who is Benny Hill?).

Check out the slides below to learn more.

Challenging assumptions with Lean UX (from Neil Allison)

Read about the presentation in more detail on Neil’s Lean blog post from February 2016

The group discussion

As always, the session was a great opportunity to meet, talk to and learn from colleagues. We followed the talks with 30 minutes of discussion based on a group-organised agenda. We used the Lean Coffee approach to decide what to talk about and for how long.

Lean Coffee approach

Image of the group voting on which topic to discuss

The group votes to decide which topics will be discussed

The topics we chose to discuss

  • Links with Service Excellence – This was a directed at Student Systems. Although the team are not part of Service Excellence, they talked about collaboration and the interest from Service Excellence to adopt Lean methodologies.
  • University of Edinburgh Contentious Improvement/Lean network – The colleagues from Student Systems are keen to set up a Lean network and were curious to find out how the group would envision such a network existing.
  • Is there a level of seniority where lean stops working? – We talked about the challenges of getting senior staff involved in Lean techniques and embracing cultural change.

Anonymous quotes from the group

My team are all working on individual projects so we do not have the ability to come together as often as we would like to. We’re all working in different offices so a lot of the time we are not available to do things like stand-ups but we’re looking at how we can adapt that. That’s why I’m here, because I’m trying to get better.

I think we all understand what the principles are and agree that they are definitely what we should be doing. However, the challenge is embedding lean in programs that traditionally use different methodologies.

Get in touch

If you’d like to find out more or bring the UX Service on board to help you better understand your users, get in touch.

Contact the User Experience Service

More UX meetup sessions

Keep an eye out for the next UX meetup. We would love to see you there.

Write-ups of other sessions we’ve run



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