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Bruce Hamilton

Lean

Thinking Outside the Pandemic

Now, as the economy begins to reopen, two lessons learned

Published: Wednesday, July 22, 2020 - 11:01

For the last four months, GBMP has, of necessity, pivoted to predominantly virtual consulting, training, and coaching. Now, as the economy begins to reopen, I’d like to share with you two lessons that we have learned.

Office space adds limited value to our work

We have discovered that physical distancing for our team does not necessarily reduce presence or alignment. In fact, the need for very frequent communication during the pandemic has highlighted the advantages of virtual methods like Zoom and Slack. The GBMP team has not been able to assemble physically since February, but we have met “face to face” virtually nearly every day, something that would not be practical in real space. While we do look forward to a time when we can occasionally meet in person, we have come to realize that the “new normal” may not require the expense of an office.

Virtual is here to stay, as a component of learning

Like many of you, GBMP has adapted to the pandemic’s reality, and we have learned through this difficult process that there are aspects of virtual learning—particularly the explicit learning—that are actually advantageous to both teacher and learner. This is something I would not have subscribed to personally, had pandemic conditions not demanded it, but the response from customers has been overwhelmingly positive. We are anxious to be back on-site with our customers “in the gemba” at some point, but we also anticipate that aspects of virtual learning will continue and develop as an improvement to lean and Six Sigma learning and organizational transformation.

Although timing for recovery from Covid-19 is no less uncertain for me today than several months ago, life goes on, work continues, and so does improvement to the work.

GBMP’s mission—to keep good jobs in our region—is stronger than ever, and we will continue to adapt to provide value to our community. We value our many relationships and look forward to bright outcomes for all of us.

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About The Author

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Bruce Hamilton

Bruce Hamilton, president of the Greater Boston Manufacturing Partnership (GBMP), brings hands-on experience as a manager, teacher, and change agent. Prior to GBMP, Hamilton led efforts to transform United Electric Controls Co.’s production from a traditional batch factory to a single-piece-flow environment that has become an international showcase. Hamilton has spoken internationally on lean manufacturing, employee involvement, continuous improvement, and implementing change; and he has contributed to numerous texts ranging from visual control to variety reduction. Hamilton’s blog, Old Lean Dude, is an on-going reflection on lean philosophy and practices with an emphasis on keeping good jobs close to home.