How Lean Six Sigma Can Help Fight the Coronavirus Pandemic

At the very crux of the lean sigma strategy is to be able to cope with crises, both small and large.

COVID-19 is certainly a large crisis where many businesses are learning as they go. But if you have a Lean Six Sigma Process under your belt, you will find you can weather any storm. The underlying principles in reaching your fullest potential are Dedication, Drive, Discipline, based on a proven methodology that has helped many businesses just like yours achieve their goals.

Lean Six Sigma is, in a nutshell, a structured, scientific method that improves all aspects of your business processes. Through disciplined data collection and analysis, and the leveraging of your current systems through an integrated process of both Lean and Six Sigma, your business can experience elimination of waste, reduction of variation, and steady continuous improvement. In effect, Lean Six Sigma combines two top methodologies.

Times of Crisis

So how does lean sigma help during times of crisis?

First, start thinking about crises as permanent. The way we react will determine a baseline for the future. Usually when faced with a problem, our first instinct is to correct, rework, retool or reschedule. With lean, the focus becomes more on the “why” so we can then implement meaningful, recognizable and repeatable experiences whereby we learn to complete the task at hand with less risks of glitches or even complete breakdowns of processes. 

Businesses the country over are in the grips of an unrelenting global epidemic – perhaps the biggest crisis facing businesses since the Great Depression. How, you may ask, can lean help in these conditions? The first thing we have to understand is human nature, and people’s first reactions to crisis: fear, anxiety, and overreaction.

Many business owners are approaching the issue from a perspective of “let’s charge through this, try to survive, and then get back to business as usual.” However, this is rarely the case, especially with a large crisis in front of us such as this one. 

With lean, we have to put people’s safety and feelings of anxiety at the top of the list and create a chain of help, whether that involves briefing management, setting up a hotline number, or creating a web page about the outbreak and your efforts to keep customers safe.   

Next, you have to realize that your business must go on somehow, some way. Re-routing the work is key here. Examine your support structures and come up with a new plan that will work. Get into the war room, collect timely information, analyze it, and direct resources to ground zero.

Man and woman collaborating

The goal with lean, then, is to encourage spontaneous collaboration so people throughout your organization can come together at points of strain

Next comes the process of outlining the response plan and coordinating responses between all parties involved. Ask: Where are the bottlenecks? Who is close by? Who can help? Lastly, management has to be ready at any moment to deal with hiccups in the process and organize frequent communication in case of the need for alternative plans. 

Lean thinking is all about training to solve small crises every single day. Yes, the big ones like coronavirus, which test the limits of your organization’s very foundation, but also in the day-to-day small crises that pop up as part of any business operation. That’s why the Lean Six Sigma process works at the most fundamental level: it’s not supposed to be used just in times of global pandemics and possible economic collapse. It’s supposed to be used on the daily, so that it becomes routine when the big things hit.  

Re-routing activities, asking for help, and coordinating initiatives in a systematic way. This is ultimately a better approach than rigid knee-jerk reactions in response to crisis.

Contact Incito Consulting Group

To learn more about how the Lean Six Sigma Process can help your business during the coronavirus pandemic and other times of crisis, please contact us at 866-697-LEAN or send us a message online. With our Lean and Six Sigma tools, you will learn everything from Vision Setting and Alignment to Team-Based Problem Solving.

Want to learn more? Schedule a consultation.

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