In pre Covidian times, the continuous improvement programme was working well, improving quality, reducing lead time and reducing cost. The Return On Investment (ROI) was healthy and even the culture was starting to move towards a more positive one.
Then at the start of 2020, the pandemic took hold and all of a sudden, the world is a different place. The carefully crafted Continuous Improvement strategy seems like it could be torn up – the challenges being faced today were not even in the most unlikely rows of the risk assessments. It is not a question of whether the lead time can be improved by 5% over the previous year, but how to manage a now even more remote supply chain that has gaps and is struggling itself to keep going. Some team members will be sick, some will be isolating and others could be caring for family members. All in all, maintaining the status quo will be tough, let alone making improvements. So the current focus is solely on surviving.
It must be time to stop Continuous Improvement activity and divert team members to help other areas that are short of staff, right?
Survival is the minimum requirement of this situation. Thriving is the desired outcome. These are the times when it is necessary to review the new current state, adjust the strategy and put in plans to deliver a new improvement plan that reflects the new normal. Does a change in current state mean that you should abandon the improvement system that has delivered so much, or should you use that same system to enable to overcome the issues that have now arisen and make the business stronger and more robust to future risks.