Currently, the whole world is grappling and bracing against the possible global recession due to the COVID-19 onslaught. This would not be the first time I will be facing with an economic recession, but my fourth. Thus, with more than 15 years’ experience as a Principal Consultant Trainer together with 35 years of Strategic and Operational experience in Manufacturing and Service Industries, I hope my insights will encourage all to implement Lean Management in order to survive this economic depression.
Introducing: Lean Management?
Lean management in a nutshell is building an organisation to create (by optimising resources) and deliver value (according to the customer’s need). It is an organisation which eliminates waste and constantly evolves through continuous improvement (CI) process, long before the mosquito sits on your nose (recession).
A recession is a business-cycle contraction when there is a general decline in economic activity. This may be triggered by various events, such as a financial crisis, the bursting of an economic bubble, an external trade shock, or the current disruption in global supply and demand chain for raw materials as well as finished goods and services due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
How Lean Management can cushion the blow during and after an Economic Recession
When an economic recession arrives, however unprecedented like the pandemic, arrows fly in from more than one angle and economic haemorrhage oozes out from more than one outlet. However, if an organisation can save 1% periodically, then the organisation becomes efficient and lean all the time. With that powerful 1% cut or what I like to call the ‘1% vaccine’, the impact will be less painful and catastrophic. However, what if there is no more ‘fat’ to cut, as your organisation is already operating at the utmost efficient level?
‘FAT’ is the Factors of Production
One of the factors of production is human capital (the stock of knowledge in the labour force). Embracing Industry Revolution 4.0 (IR4.0), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IOT), Disengage and Digitalisation are some of the actions to develop human capital and achieve Lean status. All organisations whether production or services are now approaching IR 4.0 where big data and cyber-physical systems take the centre stage.
Vendor or Buyer organisations are reinventing new-wheels and changing the way business are to be conducted in the next normal. AI, IOT, Big Data and many others are the new wheels to do business. Benefits include zero defects in production, agile and attractive to other organisations. The machines perform with agility, speed, accuracy and less effort. Furthermore, IOT technology enable different machines to inter-communicate through internet & cloud computing.
Organisations can stay relevant by upgrading their machines and keeping their employees relevant by ensuring training for employees to be multi-skilled, upskilled and reskilled to adopt new technological advancement in order to avoid retrenchment. Before I explore multi-tasking, upskilling and reskilling below, it is crucial to emphasise the importance for employees to unlearn and relearn, as all kinds of skills have a limited shelf-life. If one thinks one has ‘life-long’ skills, then there is a danger of becoming irrelevant!
Multi-tasking employees increase the productivity of the organisation because they can deliver more output with minimal resources. Employees with multi-tasking abilities have better chances of survival than others, and more so in an economic recession. They can do several upstream or downstream tasks on their own and do not have to depend on others for every small process. In a recession, those low-skilled employees and the young are most vulnerable to be retrenched. After a recession, it normally takes about five years for national and global unemployment figure to fall back to original levels.
Reskilling and Upskilling
Organisations need to redesign jobs when there is a new sales offering, business model or strategy, automation of emerging technological disruptions. Most organisations often choose to reskill current employees because they understand the culture and the nature of the business. This is especially true, if the new skills are for critical thinking and decision making, leadership and managing others, and advanced data analysis.
However, organisations might face difficulties in solving the problems of reskilling if they do not have a clear vision on:
As a result, many organisations that have overcome the obstacles of reskilling efforts in line with IR 4.0 have achieved positive results, such as in enhancing bottom-line growth, positive performance on KPI, employee satisfaction and increased customer switch over.
To conclude, many see their job skills are becoming less valuable or replaceable. Thus, all parties need to play their roles. Leaders should not do lip-service engagement but foster organisation’s culture of lifelong learning for lifelong employability to ensure these reskilling programmes succeed. Trainers must execute proper upskilling trainings with the right upgrading modules for rank and file employees. Employers need to upskill and learn how to handle this new duty by facilitating a group of long serving employees to relearn or manage a new generation of young employees. Finally, employees need to relearn to stay relevant to ensure a life-long employment
Written By :
Lt. Colonel (CD) Frank Tan
In-Source Options Sdn Bhd
The Movement Control Order (MCO) was first announced on March 16th, seeing Malaysians with only one day for them to prepare before it was an official enforcement on March 18th. “How is life going to be different for me, my family, my clients and friends?”, I thought to myself, in the event of our current pandemic situation. The next question that followed was, “Since I can’t carry on with my training and conferences, how can I add value to the community whilst staying at home?”
To journey with my family, friends and clients, I decided to start posting tips and practical action plans daily on my social media platforms. Seeing how some Malaysians were already feeling anxious and agitated being confined to their homes, feeling hopeless with a constant stream of COVID-19 updates, these tips and actions plans acted as my mission on helping the people around me thrive during the MCO, and not to just survive. Being someone who was never comfortable with being recorded on video, I did something totally and completely OUT of my COMFORT ZONE. I decided to make use of the incredible invention that technology provides by making recap videos of my social media postings at least twice a week. I must say, that after doing this for a few weeks, I have made a smooth transition from my comfort zone to my creative zone. I would like to give credit to my mentor John C. Maxwell for the many things I have learned about leadership and leading through crisis and I’m grateful to be able to share my learning, insights and experience here. Special thanks to HRD Corp for this opportunity to touch and inspire many more lives.
Thriving means making the best and doing even better considering the limitations and challenges we are currently facing. So, how can we THRIVE during the MCO? Let’s start by looking at the definition of what a crisis is.
A crisis is an intense time of difficulty that requires a decision that will be a turning point
What we are currently going through is a crisis. Before we move into steps on how to thrive during the MCO, it is important to understand a few points about crisis and the impact it has on our lives.
What does a crisis bring to the table?
HOW DO WE THRIVE DURING THIS CRISIS?
Good things come out of bad things when we have the right perspective. Here are a few Perspective Principles. Let’s reflect to see if we possess these principles in our own lives.
Written By :
Exceed Excellence Sdn Bhd
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