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At the start of the Covid19 pandemic Lean Institute Africa offered an organisation pro-bono support to assist with the response to the pandemic. They were initially interested, and our Lean Institute Africa representative went in search of the Covid19 response plan. They were sent from one person to the next and no-one they spoke to was able to source the document. The document was nowhere to be found.

This led us to ask: if there is a plan, but people don’t know about it, then is it a plan? If it’s a secret, then can it be a shared mission?

We understand that this was a massive, unprecedented emergency and that some sensitivity around access to information may be required, but if most people don’t know the plan, then is it a plan, or is it a document that senior leaders have access to?

Sometimes, particularly in crises, we struggle to make the space to think with consideration and we adopt methods that work against the approach we need.

If you have a threat and you create a plan, it needs to be accessible. If we are on a project or a mission, each person involved needs to know how they are going to be contributing to that mission and must understand their role and tasks clearly. Understanding why you’re doing what you’re doing is a powerful motivator.

How would lean thinking approach an emergency response plan? Hoshin Kanri is a planning process for effective strategy deployment, where everyone is aligned and knows how their role contributes to the plan, cascading through the organisation. Different functions know what they are working towards and what they will be measured against. Efforts are also made to improve visibility of performance against the plan, to enable the information to be fed to the relevant people quickly and easily so that the teams know how to respond to deviation for course correction.

Hoshin Kanri keeps the organisation ‘s people aligned with the strategy at hand, supporting accountability and progress, which is always useful, and particularly in a crisis. Would you like to learn more? Contact us on