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business agility

How COVID Taught Us the Value of Being Adaptive in Business

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image of shifting gears

Photo by DICSON on Unsplash

While COVID-19 had started to spread in Wuhan China late in 2019, it’s spread to the US was late January, with it being declared a pandemic in March. For those of us business owners and leaders, this pandemic has taught us quite a few things. From a macro level, it showed us how important contingency and emergency plans are. It shows us the value of forecasting and diversifying and being adaptive in business. 

Imagine if any of us had thought in December of 2019 that our businesses, suppliers or vendors may be shut down? Imagine if any of us, just 3 months earlier, had the insight to prepare for workforce, school and even restaurant closures. If we had a glimpse into the future, months before the national emergency and subsequent shelter-in-place orders, how would we have planned differently? 

There is no way to plan for every emergency, but frequently I find many businesses have not planned for ANY of them. Some may have planned once, but haven’t visited those policies since the day they were photocopied and dispersed. However, being adaptive in business means not only do we have a plan, we review it. In lean methodology, this is known as continuous improvement.

What we learned from the restaurant industry 

One real life example of how I saw companies being adaptive, both successfully and not, was the restaurant industry. Many restaurants had been offering “to-go” options prior to the restaurant shut down from COVID. Some restaurants quickly were able to scale up this business component, while others really struggled. 

One famous Italian chain of restaurants allowed us to order online, but when we showed up, there were cars all over the place. After two staff came out to talk to me, a third brought me the wrong order. It was clear online ordering was set up, but the specific location had no systems in place to help the process go easier when it came to getting the food out the door. 

To contrast this, we also went to a Mexican restaurant, and when we ordered, we were asked what color and type of car we were driving. When we arrived, parking spots were marked and someone came out in just a few minutes after we arrived, with the correct order. 

Where does this happen in your business? 

When has your business needed to adapt to a change and it went well, or poorly? 

The main component to being adaptive is communication. What needs to change? How do we implement this shift? How do we communicate the new processes? How will we know if it is working or not? Who else needs to have a say in this? 

Do you have systems in place to navigate adaptations, regardless of the source? Is it time to? Next time change comes, will you be ready to shift gears?


PBEX, LLC provides a complete review and analysis of the business processes that create efficiency and profitability, and the barriers to them. Providing consulting and lean process improvement training, we are ready to support your organizational goals. Contact us today to learn more about lean business management and to schedule your review with a lean sensei.   


How Lean Management Consulting Works

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lean management consulting


Lean management consulting and change management sit on the forefront of the most innovative leaders. Why? Because true innovation requires agility – a cornerstone in lean management, but without the cultural attribute of continuous improvement and the ability to get to the root of a problem or process and effectively manage the change for long term results, it is useless.

The best lean management consultants understand how lean tools work and are implemented effectively while also understanding the culture that is required to sustain it. And while the lean tools are simple and also revolutionary, the lean coach must be skilled in communication, training and strategy.

How do lean management consulting firms work?

Through Collaboration

Remember back to high school if you can and think about a time when you were assigned to work on a group project. What were your feelings about it? Where you excited to collaborate? Or did you find yourself loathing it, offering to do all the work so you could control the outcome, or accepting someone else’s leadership so you could sit back?

In business, the same games exist, and we understand why. Collaboration feels hard; some feel heard while others feel left out; some excel while others just accept the outcome without involved resigned to the belief that what they contribute doesn’t matter.

However, with collaboration we discover a greater buy-in by all involved. This creates true employee engagement leading to faster results and increased understanding.

Through Understanding

By getting to the root cause of concerns and asking questions to get to the real waste in processes, lean management consultants are able to make lasting shifts. For example, if wasteful spending on oversized envelopes (a real situation we’ve encountered) is due to the fact that the original supplier went out of business and no one knows or questions that, no resolution will result.

A third party, or “fresh eyes”, or in our case, a trained and professional eye, can more easily spot redundancies and inefficiencies in business processes and, using Lean tools will implement solutions for change.

With Real Results

Working with PBEX lean management consulting specialist Peter Holtgreive, clients have seen:

Improvement in Safety Performance (average 30-60%)

Set-up Time Reduction (average 60-80%)

Increased Productivity (average 20-50%)

Reduction in Quality Defects (average 50-100%)

More Floor Space (average 70-50%)

Less Dead Inventory (average 40-75%)


Overall, lean management consultants provide a complete review and analysis of the business processes that create efficiency and profitability, and the barriers to them.

Contact me today to learn more about lean management consulting services and how I help businesses simplify and improve the way they do business to better grow and manage. Together, we will create a continuous improvement culture and healthier bottom line.