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How can problem-solving skills help cure, contain and prevent ........ all at the same time?

artikel problem solving skills

I am impressed by how quickly people adapt to new ways of working as a result of the Coronavirus. I am not referring to the large group of fantastic people who are working in “vital” roles and make sure our primary needs are fulfilled such as food, healthcare and many public servant roles. I am addressing those who were told over the last couple of weeks they will have to work from home if that’s possible.

I’m training several groups in Continuous Improvement for which we changed from a classroom environment to an online Teams environment overnight. Preparation, social interaction, results all come out differently. Though some including myself seem to struggle a bit all trainees maintain strong focus and are keen to learn. They feel even more energetic compared to the "old" ways of working. Working from home and saving commuting time clearly offers advantages.

Now one could say that training and education in general and especially Lean or other continuous improvement programs are not on top of their priority list. But is this true? Where do we see improvement opportunities if we look at the sometimes-chaotic situation using our Lean Six Sigma goggles?

I’ve read last week that Dyson developed a new respirator in merely 10 days. US car manufacturers like Tesla and General Motors also join the #fightthevirus. These are all encouraging steps. But we have to get even more faster and more flexible. With all the uncertainties surrounding the Coronavirus this much is abundantly clear.

I’ve learned that on average it takes 10 to 15 years to develop a new drug. To say we don’t have that long is an understatement. I look forward to breaking news in this area. Or developing a test that very quickly and early on already during the incubation period would already help a lot to contain the virus more effectively. Abbott Industries in the US claim they created a test that within 15 minutes provides a definite answer. They expect to produce 50.000 tests per day. Antiviral medication that will reduce the severity of the symptoms would already constitute an enormous breakthrough. Many infected people are clearly suffering and the death rate is simply too high. The ultimate objective should be to find a cure that will help people to get better. In many countries of the world scientist are working together 24/7 to develop effective medication. China even expects to start producing a drug in 4 to 5 months’ time!

I sincerely hope all or any of these activities will be successful because ultimately and given the terrible consequences of the deadly Coronavirus we need something to live up to. Next to the loss of life all around the world people are losing their jobs and income which also shall have an enormous effect on our wellbeing and health. What if you have 4 mouth to feed but you have no money and are required to stay at home because of the lockdown? What would you do? And though completely understandable if you’re waiting for a kidney or in need of psychological support in many cases you’re currently parked in line. This growing reservoir of people in need of “regular” healthcare will surely create mayhem soon and take its toll.

For all scenarios where we embrace the strategy of group immunity this clearly overloads our Healthcare system and will take years. In those parts of the world where Healthcare is of lesser quality the consequences will be devastating. Closing our borders and minimizing social activities that will be necessary for containing the virus and preventing further spread is not a very appealing perspective either.

For now, it is very much still all hands on deck. In the Netherlands as well as other countries around the world we are nearing or already have surpassed the maximum IC bed capacity. In countries like Spain the stories about “triage” are horrible. Doctors must decide continuously who dies and who at least gets a chance to survive. In Madrid you’ll not be given an IC-bed if you’re over 65 years old. Therefor it is fantastic to see how fast many countries are scaling up the Intensive Care capacity and that patients are moved to neighboring countries where currently there is idle capacity or respirators and medical supplies are redeployed among countries. It is hearth warming to see countries work together and disciplines meet and work with one common objective in mind. The results are truly unbelievable.

However, after we reach a more calm and stable situation it might pay off to look back at what all happened during these crazy times. What went well, sometimes even incredibly fantastic? What should we keep? And if you’re allowed to hold a magic wand what would you change, do differently the next time?

For now, this might seem like very opportunistic thinking, with the worst probably still to come. But we must stay focused on the future and how to deal with the problems at hand. The answers should be sought in improving our problem-solving capabilities and speed to adapt and overcome. Viruses will continue to arise and spread and regrettably probably even more frequently. How can we learn to simultaneously cure, contain and prevent in a more structured way? Don’t know how to find this holy grail but happy to contribute.

Respect each other and allow everybody in “vital” roles to perform their respective roles. Make room. Step aside. Stay safe. Stay inside.

#lean #continuousimprovement #fightthevirus #coronavirus #leanleadership #sixsigma #hoshin #strategy

Auteur:Adriaan Mulder

Adriaan Mulder is oprichter en directeur van TEAM Lean Six Sigma BV en gecertificeerd Master Black Belt. Hij is bijna 30 jaar werkzaam in organisatie- en procesverbetering waarvan bijna 25 jaar in Lean en Lean Six Sigma. In die periode heeft hij in spraakmakende programma’s een leidende rol gespeeld waaronder General Electric, KPN, Caterpillar, Shell, KLM en Philips.