One of my favorite books is Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. When I first read his book several years ago it put a new spin on lean’s perspective on waste and value by applying similar concepts to individual and organizational decision-making. I’ve continued to use and refine that framework ever since.
The idea of “what is essential?” has taken a whole new, deeper meaning as many of us deal with the chaos associated with COVID-19, especially business disruption and personal shelter-at-home requirements. “Essential” businesses are allowed to keep operating and we’re allowed to engage in “essential activities,” the definition of which can raise a few eyebrows.
Recreational cannabis shops are considered essential here in California, gun shops and liquor stores in some states, craft stores in some others. Hardware stores? Restaurants when grocery stores are open? Even Gemba Academy has received several formal letters from suppliers, they themselves deemed “essential” by some other entity, informing us that we are an essential supplier to them for online training and asking that we remain operating. We have, with work-from-home and appropriate safeguards in the video studios and offices.
If we are fortunate enough to be able to work from home, or perhaps especially if we’re not and are just passing the time at home worrying about upcoming bills, we are being forced to think about our lives in a whole new way. Similarly, leaders and owners of businesses and organizations are having to do the same. Most of us had given some thought to a great disruption – an earthquake, perhaps a war or terrorist event, but probably not a pandemic. Even though we had been warned.
Regardless, it’s here, and we’re living it. Some states like California that instituted a severe, early shutdown are seeing significant flattening of virus transmission that is preserving ICU capacity. Eventually other states will as well. We’ll eventually all come out of it, probably in multiple cycles of relax/re-constrain until we find the right balance that keeps infection rates low while waiting on an eventual vaccine.
That’s the current state. So what will be the future state? Does it have to be the “previous state” or is now the chance to reimagine and reinvent something better?
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