Looking to Grow Post-COVID? Think Operations Efficiency and Continuous Improvement
What is your vision for a post-COVID future for your company?
Our country and the world are going to come out of this pandemic, ideally sooner rather than later. What then? Companies are naturally going to be focused on growth, not only to make up for lost time, productivity and revenue, but to chart the course for future success. Hiring more staff, especially if you’ve had COVID-related layoffs, may well be part of your growth strategy. But growth in a post-COVID era is also going to be about focusing on operations efficiency and continuous improvement. Even more than hiring, efficiency and continuous improvement will be crucial to what comes next.
Continuous improvement matters now
At USC Consulting Group, we’re committed to a continuous improvement mindset. We recommend it to our clients and we put it into practice every day in the work that we do for them. What does it mean, exactly? It means not resting on our laurels. Instead, we use those “laurels” as rungs on a ladder. We build upon our successes to reach for the next level. Higher, better, stronger, more efficient, it’s what we’re striving for all the time. We take a hard look at what works and what doesn’t, and learn from it. It’s about doing it better, every time, no matter what “it” is.
Here are some ways to incorporate continuous improvement:
- Become more people-focused. You know what they say about having no “I” in “Team.”
- Prioritize communication. Employees need to be clear on the strategy and goals, and know the playbook to get there.
- Embrace the unending journey. You’ve never reached the end of continuous improvement. You need to build on successes and strive to reach higher each time.
- Look at processes with a critical eye. Being honest about what works and what doesn’t is key.
- Use available tools. Resource capacity planning and operational performance reviews can ramp up your process and provide direction for further investments.
- Be open. There is always room for improvement, and being open to it is crucial.
It matters in a post-COVID world because many companies can’t and shouldn’t go back to business as usual. All of us have learned lessons from keeping our heads above water during this pandemic. Those lessons can help us improve, coming out of it stronger than before.
React, Reassess, Rebound
This pandemic has put companies through three distinct phases. Deloitte calls it Respond, Recover and Thrive. We see it a little differently. We’d call it React, Reassess, Rebound.
Back in April 2020, COVID threw all of us into the deep end of the pool. Companies had to react to this sudden, new reality and pivot on a dime just to keep the doors open. People who could work at home did, in greater numbers than ever before. For manufacturers, it meant immediately coming up with new protocols and procedures in order to keep their people safe on the shop floor while they got the job done.
This new reality wasn’t just affecting our clients. We had to react and pivot on a dime, too, changing our proven processes to help our clients quickly.
[For more on this, download our free eBook, “Times Have Changed. USC Consulting Group Can Help You Adapt.“]
Reassess: Finding efficiencies
During the pandemic, many of our clients came to us to help them with one of the things we do best — finding hidden opportunities for efficiency in their processes and procedures using their current assets. Our methodology involves listening, looking at your operating system and procedures, and finding opportunities that you don’t see. Nine times out of ten, we find those opportunities for efficiency by looking at issues that are generally accepted as “just the way things are.”
It’s about reassessing established, longstanding processes and procedures and questioning whether or not they’re the best way forward. More often than not, there’s a better, more efficient, streamlined way of getting the job done.
Rebound: It’s about growth
Here’s where it gets interesting, and where continuous improvement comes in. Dare we suggest that something positive can come from the new COVID protocols and procedures we’ve all had to implement? We can all learn from what we had to endure in 2020. Has your company found new efficiencies? Have you streamlined ways to get the job done? Have you figured out how to do more with less? We’ve helped our clients do all of those things through this pandemic. When we come out of this COVID era, which will go down in the history books as one of the most difficult trials our country has been through, there’s no reason to go back to business as usual. Using the continuous improvement mindset, it’s time to go forward, building on what we’ve learned. That’s the key to growth in a post-COVID world.