Nothing in recent history has exerted a greater influence on business change than COVID-19. The pandemic forced all types of businesses to embrace new ways of doing business, ultimately driving greater innovation and creating a new, thriving economy.
Working from Home Unveils Problems
Working from home or wherever stranded by the pandemic revealed to employers the day-to-day at-home or personal stressors of their employees. It also offered opportunities for radical change, including cultural change. COVID-19 forced most businesses to adopt lean methodology even if they didn’t realize it.
As Culture Wise put it, “Nothing will influence an organization’s potential for success more than a conscious effort to improve its culture.” We believe that holds true regardless of the motivational factors driving such improvement.
Embracing Lean Ways
When you explore kaizen or Six Sigma or any other lean methodology, you learn that the best improvements come from within and typically bottom to top. In kaizen, the business forms a quality circle of individuals with direct knowledge of a problem. Typically, line workers in manufacturing plants address issues with processes that create roadblocks or cause injury, such as when Toyota discovered the need for sliding stools for some of its mechanics who reported back pain and injuries from conducting assembly from a standing position.
Forget the idea of if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, says Forbes. When something breaks, it sometimes means you’ve noticed it too late to fix it. Lean management lets you notice something you could make better and improve it, so it doesn’t break, to begin with.
Start by Process Mapping
It starts with process mapping. You graph and plot how each process flows. During this process, you’ll typically note problems, especially because you need to speak directly to line workers or front line office staff to map a process. Employees will tell you about existing problems, but you must challenge the existing conventions of your company to make the change needed.
Increase Employee Engagement
The activities involved in lean methodology, such as quality circles and process mapping, involve and engage employees when they feel little engagement with their work. According to a 2020 Gallup poll of US employees, only 20 percent indicated they find their job engaging. The returns are exponential when employee engagement is lifted using practical and modest means of involvement.
Reduce Turnover Rates
Creating an engaging environment for employees can reduce the turnover rate. Currently, the US turnover rate stands at about 51 percent. That means when you find good workers; you lose them if your business doesn’t offer an engaging job and culture.
Fight Inflation Through Cost Reduction
Another plus for lean development and management comes from the cost savings. That’s needed more than ever as the US experiences record inflation. According to MetLife and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce survey data, 85 percent of small-business owners expressed concern about inflation. One-third of the business owners surveyed listed inflation as their number one business concern.
Lean processes that consistently apply continuous improvement tools uncover opportunities for saving money by reducing costs and creating new supplier relationships. Those rising costs hit 92 percent of small-business owners, according to a Business.org survey.
Control Supply Chain Issues
COVID-19 also unveiled numerous supply chain issues that had they used lean methodology businesses would have been better equipped to handle. When a business digitizes its supply chain, the process opens the company to opportunities to identify backup suppliers or change suppliers to those who are local or use a local distribution center. Most importantly, risks are identified and mitigated when a lean focus is applied to supply chain ecosystems.
Expand Businesses by Uncovering Opportunities
Lean applies to every business type – even digital television or an e-retailer. For example, Netflix added live sports to its broadcasting roster plus advertisements within some programming. It also began exploring options for live shows that included interactions. Online retailer Amazon now offers live streaming of Thursday Night Football games, plus Amazon Live and Twitch for streaming gaming.
Contact Starr & Associates
You can start lean management more easily by contacting Starr & Associates. We understand how to utilize analytics, business intelligence, and data mining tools to improve process efficiency and customer service. Let us help you.