Braving – and creating for – the new reality

Our world has changed forever. We’re all in this together. And we’ll all get through this together.

The Japanese saying “Fall down seven times, get up eight”, as represented by darumas (learn more about the saying and darumas in this post) has been going through my mind. We have been knocked down, but we will get back up again. I put this sticker on my computer to remind me of this daily.

Thank you to all of my friends, family, and colleagues who are on the frontline in healthcare – working to combat or prepare for how to manage the worsening COVID-19 pandemic in our communities around the world. I am grateful to you, and to everyone providing essential services, for doing all you can to keep our world healthy and functioning.

Into a new reality

Last weekend I was stuck in the mountains – literally snowed in and unable to get out – just us (my husband and two elementary school aged sons) and two other families. The mountain services had shut down and thankfully we had done a big grocery run on our way up. The whiteout conditions – which ended up being the largest storm California had seen all winter season – will always be a mark in history for me for when our world hit an inflection point in what is now a global pandemic.

For most of February, I had remarked to my husband and others that if I had to call off my sold-out Japan Study Trip that it would mean that the world was in a seriously bad place.

It was over last weekend, just nine days ago, that I made the difficult decision to cancel the Japan trip. The decision was looming over the prior weeks as more and more COVID-19 cases started to grow globally when I sat down to capture my reflections from my trip to Japan less than two months ago in my previous post. I wrote the post wanting to still feel positive about it running, but it was becoming clear that it was getting less likely by the day. It seems so long ago that this could even had been a decision point, for it is now moot less than nine days later, with most global boarders shut, flights cancelled, and many of us hunkered down at home.

So, out of the snow we finally came a week ago today, and returned to our home in the San Francisco Bay Area to shelter-in-place and into a new world.

Stabilization and then creation

This is our new reality. We are all reeling with the changes in our world and managing through uncharted waters, grieving for what we thought was the future, trying to forge a path forward, and – most importantly – stay healthy and do all that we can to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Most of last week was about getting my family – and me – stabilized. Now it is time adjust and create for the future we had not planned for. 

I wanted to share with you two ways that I’ve been adjusting and creating in the past few days, in hopes that it can also help you.

Lean Post Article: “Why (and How) We Believe Lean Can Help During COVID-19”

Two weeks ago, Karyn Ross and I were invited to join five other “Lean Sensei Women” to collectively share our perspective on Lean around the world.

In response to the global reverberations of COVID-19, we came together quickly last week to pull-together our Lean Post article, “Why (and How) We Believe Lean Can Help During COVID-19”.

Lean was a response to difficult times

In the article, we highlight something that I’ve reflected on over the past week on as it relates to our work and Lean thinking and practice: Toyota had an opportunity during another global tough time after World War II – and they used it to create a new way of working – which we know as “Lean”.  As we wrote:

Although Lean is often thought of as a system to solve already-known problems, it’s really a system to help us create new and better ways to work and new and better products and as a way to ‘revitalize’ the human spirit, communities, and organizations.

This topic of “revitalization” is one that the Japanese use often in reference to why they use (what we call) “Lean”, as I discussed a few months ago in a Gemba Academy Podcast “The Importance of Hansei and Revitalization.” Now, more than ever, the concept of revitalization is relevant to us.

How we believe Lean can help during COVID-19 

The suggestions we provide in the Lean Post article are simple and easy, can be implemented quickly, and are all based on the Toyota Way principles of respect for humanity and continuous improvement. (For some history on how these principles became the two pillars of the Toyota Way, you can visit this post I wrote based on insights from Isao Yoshino a few years ago).

Topics include ideas for how you can:

  • Ensure both physical and psychological safety
  • Check in frequently with team members (and housemates / family) – now more important than ever!
  • Make sure that leadership is in alignment and that guidance is quickly communicated
  • Manage visually so everyone can easily see ‘out-of-standard’ conditions and problems

I hope that you find the article helpful – and I intend to share some more ways soon here that I’m personally using lean practices at home to manage a new rhythm of us all living, working, and schooling in the same space.

Preview: I’ve been teaching my kids the Japanese standard for all school children to clean their schools and have made it part of our new home-bound standard work! Only 5 days in, but going well.

Incorporating the daily ritual of cleaning our “classroom” (aka our home) for 15 minutes after lunch.

Creative Approaches to Coaching and Problem-Solving in Our New Reality

Two weeks ago – it seems so long ago now – in response to so many conferences and scheduled in-person training events being cancelled, Karyn Ross and I conceived of offering an expanded, more intensive version of our K2C2 (Katie and Karyn’s Coaching Community) cohorts, and K2C2 Intensive was born.

We have adjusted our first approach based on the new world realities of children being schooled from home (including me with my 6 and 9 year olds) and the uncertainty of work and life right now. Format highlights:

  • Sessions will be offered 2x/day – choose the time that works for you.
  • Kids are welcome – we’ll offer a creativity exercise for your kids if they are home with you.
  • Right-sized pricing – pay what you can (seriously)!

Click here for more information and to register on Eventbrite.

Join us for a one-hour a day, over five consecutive days the week of April 6-10, to learn & practice simple Lean approaches and techniques that you can immediately apply at work and home to manage through today’s challenges. The new practices you’ll learn are designed to help you learn, develop, and support each other in our new reality.

  • Discover practices to help you – and others – solve problems quickly
  • Use quick PDCA cycles to speed up learning
  • Practice simple and powerful coaching techniques to help you help others
  • Focus on what we can do in times when we are experience lots of “I can’ts”

Please join us if you are interested. We are offering this to everyone – regardless of ability to pay – because we want to help you and pull together as a broader global community to create for a new world.

Staying connected to learn, share, and grow to create our new reality

I got this daruma sticker at the daruma temple in Japan on the May 2019 Japan Study Trip. I’ve put it on my computer as a reminder of “Fall Down Seven Times, Get up Eight”.

One thing that I promised my Japan Study Trip participants last week is that I intend to still find ways to share insights and experiences from Japan with them – and with you here.

When I moved to Japan just over five years ago for 18 months, starting this blog was a way to connect with a broader global community. I plan to continue to use this space as a way to connect, share, and learn together.

I welcome your comments and being connected with you – if not in person, then virtually for now.

Thinking of all of you around the world. May you stay safe and well. And we WILL get through this, together.

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