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International Guests Learn about Lean Leadership through Opera



​The Gulf College participants take to the stage at the iconic Wales Millennium Centre. 

Cardiff School of Management ran a five day course in lean leadership, using the Welsh National Opera (WNO) to demonstrate lean principles in action, for a group of guests from the University’s collaborative partner, Gulf College, Oman.

The course, arranged by Siân Rees, CSM Associate Dean (Enterprise), innovatively moved away from lean in a manufacturing environment, taking course participants to the home of Welsh National Opera in the Wales Millennium Centre, to hear the challenges and issues associated with managing the 3rd largest opera company in the UK and the only one with a commitment to touring and supporting the arts in the regions.

To complement classroom content and discussions, it was seen as important that participants heard from lean leaders working in industry about their project management practices. The course also included contributions from Cardiff Met’s Professor of Computer Science and Public Policy Tom Crick and the University’s Professor of Marketing Mark Goode, who spoke about information sources and innovations in management practices.

Dr Julia Fallon, Principal Lecturer in Marketing and Strategy at Cardiff School of Management who set up the visit with Welsh National Opera said: “This course offered a fantastic opportunity for our guests from Gulf College Oman to learn about applied Lean Leadership in a very interesting setting, whilst at the same time, giving us the opportunity to showcase our wonderful capital city.

“Both Peter Harrap and Jan Michaelis at WNO made time to share their experience in managing the complexity of planning, producing and touring a major opera in the face of ever more constrained funding, as well as sharing valuable insights into how they had adapted lean production techniques and lean leadership approaches to meet these challenges. 

“The group visited the WNO building in Cardiff City centre to see lean processes and leadership in action in a creative context. They were also treated to a backstage tour of the stunning Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay – home of the WNO – where they heard about the meticulous planning and multifaceted choreography of delivering a fully staged opera for a live performance.”

Cardiff Met expects to be repeating this programme in the future for those interested in lean leadership as a feature of Cardiff School of Management’s portfolio of Lean, Leadership and Project Management short courses.