Papers & Publications

Pandemic Demands and Downturn: Making the Most of What You Have

It is a time of concern and unprecedented change. Challenges abound all around us individually, as families, teams, organizations, and as a society. At work, we are faced with teammates being sickened, unavailable, or working separately. The products and services we provide and the ways in which we provide them are changing, demand has dramatically changed (up or down), and shortages of resources are wide spread.


Use continual improvement (CI) resources, knowledge and culture to help address the challenges.


If you are facing increased or unique demands caused by the pandemic, you are probably modifying or creating work processes for more capacity with people not familiar with the tasks and with a need for speed and quality. Rather than fire fight your way, apply some rapid mapping and standardized work development to give your team members a consistent standard to follow. Creating standard work procedures is important because:

  • It can be done quickly and has a big impact on outcomes and deliverables.
  • Reduces cycle time, improves productivity, and quality by 15-20%. 
  • You can uncover problems before they occur.
  • Team members unaccustomed to the process are able to contribute correctly.
  • You can quickly check capacity and balance workload. Raw materials, resources, and customer needs are better allocated.

Implement standard procedures with immediate training in the standardized work (with the Tell, Show, Have them Do it, and Giving feedback method), together track performance, and use daily huddles for on the spot improvements.


All of this can be done in hours and days, not weeks!


If you are facing a downturn, use this time to reinvent your services and offerings and prepare your team for recovery. Prepare for the ramp up with some innovation, planning, process improvement, and maintaining your resources by investing in your People, the most important element in high performing organizations as viable strategies.

  • Using your core competencies, what other products and services can bring value to customers? What other venues or processes can you utilize? A local distillery temporarily shifted their distillation process from spirits to hand sanitizer in order to support the community, hospitals, assisted living homes, and beyond.
  • Become very focused. Create or refresh your strategic and annual improvement plans to forecast and prepare for the ramp up and prioritization of needs. Review your value streams and data for bottlenecks, resources and supplies, people and machine capacity. Be ready!
  • Get your house in order. During this downturn make improvements to your processes (physical and information) with Kaizen and solve nagging problems5S your information systems and networks virtually to bring benefit when activities ramp up. Contact us if you need help connecting the team, we have software.
  • Use the time for developing your People by training in technical, teaming or CI skills – some of it can be done virtually.

Most importantly, we hope you are safe and stay healthy. And if you’re overwhelmed and want some help reacting effectively and efficiently – give us a call.