Improve Start-Up Readiness and Develop Agility in Operations

Improve Start-Up Readiness and Develop Agility in Operations

As the world is fighting Covid-19 and its aftermath, one of the leading consequences of the crisis is a sharp downfall in the economy which has put pressure on financial positions of business organizations and resulted in job loss in millions. Directly or indirectly it has induced fear and uncertainty in each of us.  

However, if there is a dark side, there is a bright side too. After any crisis, no matter how prolonged, comes recovery. Organizations need to strengthen themselves to take the threat of economic slowdown head-on and need to work on their weaknesses to seize the opportunities that the eventual recovery would offer. How the slowdown in our operations can be countered? The simple answer is by carrying out operations nimbly with speed and ease to reduce the impact of this pandemic to a large extent.  

Lou Holtz, a former American football player once said: “Ability is what you're capable of doing, motivation determines what you do, and attitude determines how well you do it”. Covid-19 may have dented our ability and motivation. However, with a positive attitude, one can turn the tables and regain one’s ability and motivation. The best chance of success occurs when one is proactive and creates a sense of urgency. 

 Every business is based on three pillars: customers, employees, and suppliers. Post-COVID, the organizations must make fresh strategies depending upon current realities of orders in hand, availability of skilled manpower and availability of raw materials/bought-out items. In many business segments, consumption will get reduced temporarily and that will create a fear of uncertainty amongst employees as well as suppliers.  

Maintaining the morale of employees as well as suppliers through improving communications to make them understand the situation; and giving the latest updates on regulations and your responses to this pandemic become vital.  

In certain other segments where customer demand is still there, there will be challenges of different types; that how to manage with a smaller number of skilled employees and unpredictable supplies from the suppliers. Rapidly improving the skill of the newly hired staff and ramping up productivity will be the key concerns.  

As organizations restart operations after a lengthy lockdown and/or temporary closure of operations, overcoming 4 critical challenges are of great importance –  

1. Regaining productivity quickly as operations restart – this may require reorganizing production and changing layouts to adapt to the current requirements and regulations (vis a vis social distancing measure, for instance). This may also require multi-skilled workforce tending to multiple processes; readjusting production to current Takt Time (based on current demand); balancing the line/cell to the current Takt Time; and determining the optimal number of operators needed given the current circumstances (considering layouts that would enable social distancing, the possibility of increased absenteeism etc.) 

2. Removing/Mitigating Supply Bottlenecks – ensuring an adequate and consistent supply of raw material and packaging material – for instance, by identifying and developing alternative sources of supply.  

3. Reducing production Lead Time– ensuring our operations are nimble and agile to develop rapidly changing market needs. This requires concerted effort to reduce Lead Times and throughput times by improving the flow of material and information in operations – ensuring single-piece-flow through cellular layouts, line balancing, standard work, production in small batches, quick changeovers among other ‘flow improvement’ methods become important.  

4. Quickly adapting to fluctuating market needs – identifying changing market needs to through improving market intelligence and daily monitoring of sales and operations.  

All these measures require a certain amount of willingness to change and moving away from the status quo. As economies reopen, those organizations which are most agile and nimble; those who could respond to changing business landscape by rapidly rejigging their operations; and those who respond rapidly to customer needs stand to benefit.  

Ensuring your operations are ready for start-up in this uncertain environment is the key first step.  


Naresh Chawla, Senior Consultant at Kaizen Institute 

About Kaizen Institute 

Kaizen Institute is the original and premier provider of KAIZEN™ services of Change Management, Business Excellence, Operational Excellence and Lean. 

We support companies of all sizes in all market segments, providing them with a sustainable, competitive advantage. Our Vision is Improving the world with Everyone, Everywhere, Every Day – The KAIZEN™ Way. “KAIZEN™ means Change for the better.” 

Kaizen Institute is a global organization that provides consulting and training services to companies represented in Europe, the Americas, Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and Africa. We are currently operating in 60+ Countries for 35 years. 

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