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Using Lean Thinking to Resume Work Safely during the Covid-19 Pandemic

by Lean Leaper
June 24, 2020

Using Lean Thinking to Resume Work Safely during the Covid-19 Pandemic

by Lean Leaper
June 24, 2020 | Comments (0)

Since coronavirus reshaped our world several thousand years ago (okay, it only feels that way), several articles have explored productive ways that lean companies have framed their thinking regarding safe methods to resume work. Tomorrow’s webinar on Smart Steps for Restarting Production will expand on this, with useful advice from lean veterans at General Electric Appliances (captured at work in the banner photo) and Herman Miller, drawn from their experience.

Numerous articles from recent months, many of them published in our sister publication Planet Lean, have detailed wise approaches to adjusting work safely and respectfully. In Staying Ready in Uncertain Times, Catherine Chabiron recounts the thinking that informed the strategy of CEO Nicolas Chartier and other leaders of French online auto retailer Aramisauto.com. The company tapped its guiding principles to create four key priorities for the new challenges: 1) Protecting employees and customers, 2) Ensuring business continuity, 3) Preparing Aramisauto.com to be even stronger once out of the crisis, and 4) Maintaining teamwork despite remote work and stress. Overall an excellent, detailed story of resilient lean change.

Small manufacturer PCM HabilClass is another French company, whose use of lean principles to guide a response to Covid-19 challenges, is told by Catherine, in Learning Fast in The Crisis. After many conversations with customers and peers about shifting needs, company owner Nicolas Guillemet realized the greater need to design products that are easy to supply and assemble, to gain on lead-time and quality. The company also tapped deeper into teamwork to reach this goal.

And Lean Innovations for Restaurants shares a wealth of useful, practical ways that restaurants can “organize differently (and better) in order to guarantee the safety of clients and workers and to minimize waste and errors.” Ranging from using 5S to review menus and wine lists, to using Kanban for a leaner, waste-free kitchen, and even applying visual communication to encourage responsible behavior, these lessons extend beyond the kitchen.

Finally, LEI’s John Shook has shared several instructive articles about Herman Miller and GEA. In Emerging Stronger, John points out clever tactical responses by both companies to emerging challenges—some of which will be explored in the webinar. And in this older piece about Herman Miller, he details the company's commitment to shave even a half-second from its work cycle assembling its famed Aeron chair.

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