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Summer 2020 newsletter

Wow!!….since our last newsletter in the Spring what a remarkable time it has been for all of us. Massive disruption to everything we thought was pretty stable and secure and all of us going through a lightning fast learning curve in how best to respond to uncertain and rapidly changing circumstances.

For us at Process Insight it’s been all about how we can best continue to support our clients “Remotely”. We have benefitted enormously from the fantastic delegates who agreed to participate so enthusiastically in our remote training pilots. We are very proud of these delegates and what they achieved. Their energy & support has given us the confidence to fully commit to this training approach  – even if a vaccine was available tomorrow we would continue to provide remote training because of the advantages we have found it gives our clients.

However, in this newsletter we thought it might be interesting to focus on the experiences of a few of our key clients and explore how they have been navigating their way through lockdown and beyond. What has it meant for them?  What have they Learnt? What does their future now look like?  I’m very grateful to Alison Hartley (CI Leader, Teledyne e2V), David Payne (Global Director of Strategic Operating Systems, JM Healthcare), Matt Bradshaw (Head of Learning & Development & Lean Sigma, FujiFilm Diosynth Biotechnologies), and Luisa Lovato (Group Opex Leader, Beltrame) for taking the time to share their stories and their Covid Experiences with us. Perhaps yours have been similar?


We started our discussions by exploring the overall impact of Covid on the overall businesses.

Alison – For us production has continued throughout with about 60% of employees remaining on site. The demand for some of our medical imaging products has ramped up significantly. Other products used primarily in radiotherapy have fallen back significantly but we anticipate this will come back as soon as cancer treatments start to ramp up again.

David – Our plants have been running flat out with increasing demand for pain relief. We’ve had some supply chain issues with raw materials from China & Italy. Also for us about 60% of employees on site with remainder working from home.

Matt – About 50% of our staff have remained on site with the other 50% working remotely. We are heavily involved globally in development and manufacture of Covid related vaccines & therapeutics, so from a business perspective we are very busy.

Luisa – For us this has been a tough year in the market. Demand for steel has decreased. But this has been a great opportunity from an Opex perspective to create a “burning platform” to drive much needed change. It has allowed us see and address some really important inefficiencies in how we do things.

So how do you think your organisation has responded to the challenges of Covid?

Matt – the organisation has responded very well and very quickly. Many of my colleagues have relished the challenge. It’s amplified our inherent organisational strengths in flexibility and adaptiveness.

Alison – We’ve seen very impressive levels of teamwork. There has obviously been a lot of anxiety around, but as an organisation we have been able to make decisions quickly with the interests of our employees always at the heart of what we have chosen to do.

Luisa – Italy was first into the crisis so we had lots of uncertainty to deal with. However people have really found ways to be effective working remotely in teams. We have been able to use this crisis in a positive way to challenge some long held beliefs about how we should work together.

David – I’ve been very impressed with the way our people have responded. I felt our response was very professional and the organisation as a whole demonstrated flexibility and a high tolerance for dealing with uncertainty. It was also evident that many of the Lean Performance Management processes we had in place (e.g. cell structures and tier meetings) were very robust, well embedded, and well able to keep the business running effectively despite the challenges of lockdown. That has been great to see!

What specifically has Covid meant for OpEx/CI activities across the organisation?

Luisa – For us it’s been a great opportunity to demonstrate the value of Opex across different parts of the Organisation. The crisis and the need for remote working has highlighted many inefficiencies in what we do. The Country-Managers have been asking for lots of help and support to improve different aspects of their operations. In fact we have been overwhelmed with requests for help and it has been difficult to prioritise. It has also highlighted that delivering improvement is all about relationships – so we’ve had to put much more effort and planning into managing and engaging with stakeholders remotely. We are still learning how to do this better.

Matt – For some, the opportunity for remote working has helped the progress of improvement activities with more focus and less distractions. Of course, starting new improvement projects has been more difficult. A real positive impact, however, has been to get people to recognise that “the impossible is possible”. We are still recruiting very heavily to support our rapid growth, and following lockdown we had to rapidly move all our “onboarding” process for new recruits to a virtual process. This has been a real success story for us and has been a lever to get the organisation thinking more generally about other possibilities for radical new ways of doing things.

David – We have used the crisis in a positive way as an opportunity to strengthen our Global Deployment. We already had key elements in place, but the challenges of Covid and lockdown have reinforced the need for our Healthcare Operating System and this is clearly shared amongst our leaders. We have also had a bit of space and time to do the analysis and make sure we continue to focus on the right things. Covid hasn’t changed the priorities but it has helped accelerate the need to do things differently.

Alison – The requirements of social distancing in the plan has led to lots of good lean thinking (e.g. visual management) happening in the plant quite naturally. Several colleagues have fedback that they find virtual meetings more efficient with better planning, preparation and facilitation – so we achieve more in less time. In some cases, where we are experiencing a downturn, this has allowed some headroom for implementing flow and layout improvements that we have been wanting to do for some time. I think, overall, the biggest benefit has been to prove that when people are focussed on a clear goal, massive change is possible in a remarkably short period of time. This is a powerful piece of organisational learning.

What have been your “Key lessons Learnt”?

David – As the crisis developed we learnt a lot about how to communicate quickly and effectively, and we have had great feedback from our staff on how we dealt with this. We have also developed a new “Operations Playbook” giving our teams a much clearer roadmap for managing our facilities and teams in a pandemic type emergency. I’ve also been very pleasantly surprised at how the organisation has been able to quickly adapt to new ways of working. Our challenge will be to harness and re-inforce all this positive experience as we continue to move forward.

Alison – For me, it’s about seeing how quickly change can take place when the need is clear and present. We moved to a 2-shift system almost overnight when historically that had been very difficult. We have also had QA processes that we had to quickly simplify and make “virtual”. We had been trying unsuccessfully to do that for several years previously but meeting enormous resistance. I’m proud of how my colleagues have dealt with the challenges, grasped the opportunities and the level of teamworking that I’ve seen throughout the organisation. It shows what is possible.

Luisa – In Italy “Smart Working” (or working from home) has not previously been widely accepted. This crisis has stimulated a totally new way of working in Beltrame (and other Italian companies) and it’s great. We are all learning how to work together effectively remotely. We are starting to learn how to use the technology and how to engage with each other when we are not face to face.  This has also been a great opportunity to shift the perception of Opex in Beltrame – we are no longer seen as “policemen” for the process and are now looked to as facilitators of new ways of doing things.

Matt – One important thing I realised is that the Change Equation (Dissatisfaction * Vision *Next Steps > Resistance) is missing a “B” (“Belief”). If people don’t have “belief “ they cannot rise to the challenge. One of our roles as “Change Leaders” is to create that belief and then people can, and will, do extraordinary things. We saw that with the development of our Virtual Onboarding process – once we got people to believe it could be done the “impossible” quickly became possible. I’ve seen several examples of this over the last few months. The other thing this experience has re-inforced for me is the value and importance of good coaching. In this new world we need to constantly encourage people to take more responsibility for making their own decisions and coaching is the best way to do this.

So, final question, do you think your organisations have found a new normal as a result of this crisis or will they slowly revert back to more traditional ways of doing things?

Alison – A second outbreak remains the biggest risk to our business. We don’t anticipate bringing our homeworkers back this year, things are working well as they are, and bringing more people back on site will have to be done very slowly and carefully to minimise risk. People have generally found many positives about working from home and I anticipate we will explore some sort of “blended” model in the future.

Luisa – I think our business has become very comfortable with these new ways of working. We will have to train people better to make them comfortable with the new remote working tools but I don’t think we will revert back.

Matt – We have transformed the way we work during the pandemic. We have used our core strength of adaptability, built upon our resilience and shown that we can even increase our output. It’s hard to say how things might change further in the future but we have shown that we can continue to adapt and grow in these challenging times. Whatever the future holds in terms of ways of working, I’m confident that we are ready for it and we will adapt quickly.

David – We will have a numbers restriction on site for a long time to come. We need to constantly work at how to better engage with others remotely and find ways to have “ad -hoc” conversations. Also how to do things like training remotely. But we have been very encouraged about how some of our core Lean management processes have continued to operate (e.g. SQCDP), so I don’t see things ever going back to the way they were before.

Finally, many thanks once again to each of you for taking the time to share your recent experiences. What’s clear is that each of you feels very proud of the way your organisations have responded to the challenge. Also, what has been very obvious from the discussion are the different ways that OpEx and CI skills and capabilities have played their part. New and better ways of doing things are becoming the norm, building on foundations already in place but also opening up new opportunities. When we look back in a few years time it will be remarkable to see what changes have been stimulated by addressing the needs of this crisis.

Congratulations To All Our Recently Accredited 'Belts'

At Process Insight we help organisations solve their business problems in a way that supports the personal development of the people involved. Consequently we are particularly delighted to offer our congratulations to those we have recently coached & certified. Certification represents a very important milestone and is a great demonstration of sustained leadership & business impact. If you would like to find out more about becoming accredited then give us a call on 07785 927144.

Black Belt certification

Mariamartin Aranda    Ardagh Glass
Alicia Dunne    Victrex
Natalie Kean    Business Stream
Paolo Dorso    Bormioli Rocco
Peter Dickinson    Ardagh Glass
Rebecca Schofield    Fuji Diosynth
Raquel Schmidmajer-Reyes    Ardagh Glass

Green Belt certification

Daniel Ward  nPower
Joshua Limbachia  E2V Teledyne
Becki Pinchback  E2V Teledyne
Katrina Stoddart  Business Stream
Mariya Dikova  Business Stream
Lisa Robertson  Business Stream
Steven Haldane  Business Stream
Enrica Laprocina  Amazon
Hossein Kheyri  Fine Lady
Tim Harding  Fuji Diosynth
Gianluca Rossi  Beltrame AG
Andreina Turletti  E2V Teledyne
Jon Gilbert  Self Employed

Should you have any questions or require more information about any of the content in this newsletter please do get in touch with either myself or Andy and we can discuss the simple next steps. Alternatively give us a call on + 44 (0) 7785 927144.
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