Observation – Pandemic Doesn’t Stop Lean Organizations

When the pandemic started taking control of our lives in March, 2020, many companies and organizations wondered how they would survive and continue providing their services and products. Well seasoned leaders have lived through challenges prior to Covid, but the pandemic was definitely a unique one, and one they had no control over. They realized early on, they had a choice – slow down, shut down, or figure out how to continue operating and possibly even implementing changes to adapt to the changes while building their capabilities.

Many of the leaders we work with decided to tackle the challenge and not allow Covid to stifle their progress and the future of their companies/organizations. They also were well aware, they had to think outside the box and develop a unique strategy to combat this unique new environment. Restrictions such as distancing, masks, constant cleaning of hands and surfaces, limiting the size of groups, all combined to cripple and limit their day-to-day operations and services. And they had to do it quickly.

Some adjusted to virtual and online learning, along with combining small face-to-face safe interactions to support the virtual/online activities.

These innovative, passionate, motivated groups proved that if you have the will, there is a way. One of the key, and common, transformational methodologies they utilized was Lean. The flexibility of Lean allowed groups the advantage of being able to gain concept knowledge online and then follow up using virtual meetings with Face-to-face meetings strategically to guide the adaptation and application of those concepts and approaches to their actual processes. The results were impressive, and quite surprising.

Couple samples of results

  • Pipe Manufacturing – increased their productivity/hour by 30+ %
  • Engineering – reduced process time by 60%
  • Warehousing – Reporting Procedures – reducing time by 90%+ and floor space reduced by 30%
  • Automotive Maintenance – increased their capacity by 40%


These examples, and many more, demonstrate what all of us have likely experienced before – give a group a challenge – ‘the what’, then give them freedom to determine the ‘how’ to over come it, and they will conquer/overcome the challenge.

Some other more difficult, but just as important, results from the pandemic we observed are

  1. the tremendous increase in pride within these organizations – ‘they accomplished it when everyone thought they couldn’t’,
  2. their clients/customers saw how committed and dedicated their suppliers were to providing the service and products – it created a stronger bond,
  3. the engaged groups have more confidence to tackle anything thrown at them – they have a culture of working and winning together and
  4. they are even stronger than they were prior to the pandemic!