KU Leuven and iLean: a case study

As early as May 2016 ICTS, the central IT department of KU Leuven, was actively looking ahead. There was no acute pain or problem, but they felt they needed to investigate innovative solutions to adjust their way of working at that time in order to stay relevant in the near and distant future.

They did not want to wait for problems (too) difficult to overcome. Instead, they went proactively searching for innovative tools to continuously improve their way of working, bearing in mind that change takes a lot of time and effort.

In order to achieve their vision for the future, they set up 9 clear goals that still stand strong today:

  • Guarantee that we work on the right things first
  • Be more capable to react in a flexible manner to the fast-changing environment
  • Aim for shorter lead times
  • Create satisfied customers and users through improved quality
  • Create satisfied customers and users through higher predictability
  • Create satisfied customers and users through increased engagement
  • Higher autonomy and participation for all teams
  • One common goal for all teams
  • Allowing our employees to grow in their expertise by allowing them to develop their competencies

They already had some in-house Agile knowledge but felt they needed more. So the ICTS team investigated different options, went on training, looked for support, and with that support set up a way of working based on SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework) within their department.

That is the moment iLean was asked to step in, to guide the ICTS team in putting the theory into practice, to help them make the changes really land in the teams.

By means of pilot teams, iLean was able to guide ICTS toward an innovative and fluid work organization and toward the adoption of relevant Sociocracy 3.0 patterns (a practical guide for flexible and resilient organizations, based on the equality of individuals).

In practice, each onboarding team (including management) first had an intensive 2-day training followed by actual sprint work. iLean offered them a combination of on-the-job coaching, 1-on-1 interviews, facilitation, and personal coaching. Ultimately it came down to ‘just’ doing it and learning from the process, with the necessary guidance. Via in-depth workshops, training in non-violent communication and Sociocracy 3.0 patterns, and intensive coaching, we were able to define the specific needs and formulate an answer to those together.

Teams were given the opportunity to follow their own pace to learn and grow. It allowed them to safely define the next steps for continuous improvement and extended learning. Of course, this is an ongoing process, and the story will never be finished.


We are very proud of the ICTS team, which was able to make the transition to the digital university we know today in a mindblowing mere 3 weeks’ time, thanks to their new way of working. This new way of working allowed them to have the necessary agility to effectively tackle challenges.

We are also very grateful that we were allowed to be their guiding partner throughout this transition and still are throughout this ever-ongoing process. We are also very grateful and enthusiastic about the fact that ICTS appreciated and really welcomed our approach and expertise so that we could effectively and intensively work together to achieve greatness. In the meantime, many members of the organization really master the techniques and have adopted the necessary agility to tackle challenges, as well as the mindset for change, to allow them to carry their further growth and transformation on their own.

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