This is a time of horror, a time of insurrection and a time of wonder.
The Coronavirus continues to be a horror, but the crisis has provided a time of wonder with multiple examples of management improvement and innovation in services, supply chains and people management, often created by a combination of the pressure of insurrection from below and licence to find solutions from above.
Hospital managers who have discovered 3D printer capacity for facemasks on their doorstep are now asking themselves what other uses they could provide in future?
Council managers who moved every homeless person off our streets in just over a week and into hotels are wondering why they did not do this before and if they can use this time to keep the homeless permanently off the street?
HR managers who have had to redeploy staff, furlough others and review skills sets are wondering how to keep the brilliant staff who have stepped up and found new solutions and ways of working.
Directors of fashion companies who have adapted production methods to make PPE are wondering what else they could make when they are not chasing fashion trends?
Midwife consultants at a single south Wales hospital who set up an online advice service for their pregnant women, that has now been rolled out to all of Wales in weeks rather than the scheduled months are wondering why this was not done years ago?
Millions of staff are working from home, doing things they always thought demanded face to face time through video conferencing tools and finding they are good enough for some, perhaps the majority of those meetings and wondering how much work really needs office time and commuting?
City leaders are looking at the radical reduction in air pollution and wondering what they can do to make that permanent?
This has also been a time of insurrection. The threat of revolt from below if those on high did not listen to innovation or seek unconventional routes to solutions has undoubtedly supported the innovators.
All the things that have been reorganised, redeployed, refocussed, in a matter of weeks; all of this newly acquired knowledge. Is there a way this experience can be built into a new wave of continuous improvement by managers challenged by extreme pressure against immovable deadlines?
What kind of management can achieve these changes in this short time and can bake them in for the future? The answer is Continuous Improvement management. Looking all around for the incremental as well as the big changes and making sure this is not just a one off. That is why there is an Institute promoting it so that reform is baked in not lost as in so many other changes.
Realistically many of the temporary fixes for the virus cannot be permanent or become normal. Too many depend on unsustainable levels of staff commitment, risk in the case of health staff, and volunteerism or open budgets. But a great deal can and should be learned and retained. This is the challenge of continuous improvement.
We have all seen wonderful examples of often incremental but critical innovation over recent weeks. Send us your examples of innovation and improvement lessons from the COVID-19 emergency plans and how you think these can become a permanent feature in future working, supplying, commissioning and delivering products and services and we will drive an online conversation on ICiPS and the Education Studio highlighting them and help bake in the achievements from this difficult time. Submit your example here.
The ICIPS Continuous Improvement conference, Thursday 9th July – with full online options of course – will provide an ideal moment to share, assess and not lose the momentum for service and supply improvement.
See if you can spot the two continuous improvements in booking options built into this new event model? And feel free to suggest further improvements from your own experience in the hybrid or online world. Register your place here.