YKK Stories

Fundamental Behavior 11 – Innovate

September 4, 2020
Author: YKK
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Yesterday she was managing the office, and then COVID closed the office. Today she is working through unemployment claims. Yesterday he was helping colleagues in El Salvador improve their equipment, and then the governments closed the factories. Yesterday she was filling every minute with customer visits and putting out fires from the road or the airport, and then the pandemic shut her customers down. Today she is scrambling to find anyone around to pick up the phone. Yesterday he was managing our finances and fielding the nightly questions from Japan, and then the virus turned everything upside down. Today he is trying to put a tourniquet on the arterial bleeding of cash because our sales were cut in half. Sound familiar?

We have all been forced to make big changes in how we work. In some cases, we have had to change our jobs completely. This is scary, unsettling, and exhausting. The best way to deal with the bad aspects of these changes is to lean into them. Ask yourself –

What changes have I been forced to make that are actually making me work smarter? You should keep doing them.

What important aspects of my pre-COVID job are less important today? You should stop doing them.

Which weaknesses in our business has the pandemic uncovered? We should address them and fix them.

On which strengths in our business has the pandemic shined a light? We should recognize them and use them more.

We have all heard that adversity reveals character. Crisis also reveals business weaknesses and strengths. Once we can recognize these, then we have the power to fix the bad and leverage the good.  Each of you know your jobs better than anyone else. This crisis has put a mirror and a bright light on those jobs. Now is the time look closely and use the one gift the pandemic offers, the gift of perspective.  So take a look and adjust, remove, enhance, or automate to make us a little bit better (or even a lot better!). We can call it innovation, Kaizen, TPM, Six Sigma, or the ‘paper thin effort’, but it all results in the same thing – a much stronger future.

She found a new product that reduced the office phone bill 70%. He is building AI tools for enhanced manufacturing systems. She is discovering new industries propel our sales for the next decade. He is taking a machete to bureaucracy and red tape through robotic process automation. We can’t all make big advances, but we do not have to. Three thousand small steps forward will get us all a lot farther than one or two leaps, no matter how big. Please talk amongst your teams to take those steps – and even a few leaps.

Jim Reed
YKK Corporation of America