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Be Deliberate About Your New Normal

By Steve Kane Updated on April 23rd, 2020

We’re at a point with the world’s current events that some governments are beginning to relax isolation orders and business restrictions. It would be easy to think that we might be getting back to normal soon. The harsh reality is that we’ll never get back to the way things used to be.

The root cause of the disruption that upended our lives has not yet been addressed. Eliminating COVID-19 will undoubtedly take considerable time.

As long as the virus is prevalent in any part of the world, we’ll need to enact countermeasures to both keep people safe and allow at least some businesses to operate.

There won’t be any getting back to normal. Many businesses and business practices will remain restricted in some way. Social distancing is here to stay for the foreseeable future. Some governments are limiting purchase transactions to cashless exchanges. The number of people permitted in a business facility will likely be limited.

Something we’ve seen throughout this crisis, and also in every other crisis, is that people cooperate to overcome extreme challenges.

As your businesses transition back to full operation many practices will need to change. This isn’t a time to jump to countermeasure or just wing it and hope for the best.

We have a wealth of sound business (Lean) practices to help us thrive in difficult times. A common aspect of these practices is deliberate action.

Kata can be an effective method to rally people around a common, overarching goal, break down large problems, and lead people through the unknown following the PDCA framework.

TWI Job Instruction is effective in establishing “One best way” to perform new or changed tasks “Quickly, correctly, and conscientiously.” This is particularly effective with onboarding new staff quickly.

A3 is a great way to think through and communicate complex issues, root cause, countermeasures, and action plans.

The list of Lean tools and methods goes on.  Regardless of how individuals and organizations adapt to a new way of being, leadership will be indispensable.

Leaders will be called upon to set a new direction, give people a sense of security, give the certainty about how best to serve the customer and their team, and provide a sense of purpose that will give the drive to endure the confusion and frustration that will likely surface at some point.

This is the time to closely examine your vision, mission, values, principles, and practices. Be deliberate about how you and your organization will adapt.



  1. Rodney

    April 24, 2020 - 8:40 am

    I love pocket cards, and my favorite card, the one in my pocket right now, is called: “The Trouble Shooting Process.” The first step in this five step process is to “CONFIRM YOU REALLY HAVE A PROBLEM–How many? How often? How long? Don’t try to fix a problem you can’t define.” So, my question with Covid-19 is: Do we really have a problem? The flu routinely kills 20,000-60,000 people every single year. A bad flu year would cost us 80,000 American lives. And for these problems, we may get a voluntary flu shot, if there is one. We wash our hands a lot, and stay away from old people when we are sick. We don’t shut down the country for the flu, and yet data shows that Covid-19 is in that same class. We also don’t shut down the country to solve heart disease (650,000 deaths per year–including my father) and we don’t shut down the country for cancer (600,000 deaths per year–including my father-in -law). So, before we ruin the world wide economy, let’s be sure we really have a problem. Then, if necessary, we can talk about short term counter measures. I hope we will also eventually talk about the TRUE root cause–which looks like it was bad safety processes at the virology lab in Wuhan, China.

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