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Time to think about Lean with so much going on?

Updated: Mar 26

Too busy for change
I don't have time I need to work! :-)

In one of the many discussions I have heard about possible scenarios for the auto market in the post-pandemic future, I heard the phrase: "We cannot take care of processes now because at this time, there are more important things to worry about!"

This is exactly where the biggest mistakes in business administration occur. In a moment of crisis, large (such as the covid-19) or small (like the day to day in the dealership), a normal step taken is to abandon the process when what should be done is exactly the opposite.

The Lean Management philosophy was born in the Toyota production system and envolved from an efficient management of a crises. 

In fact, a very big crisis! Just to highlight how the company lived in the post-World War II, with Japan busy rebuilding in the late 1940s and a strike by employees who were against the reduction of a quarter of the labor force. 

Toyota had just been born as an automobile manufacturer. Without expertise in the industry, it went through a war, suffered from over-inflation, followed by a lack of credit and an economic recession. In this phase, 

The Lean Principles strengthened and helped Toyota to be the first of the automakers to recover from the crisis

The model created at that time is the same one admired and pursued today.

In the face of all the uncertainty experienced during these pandemic times, it is quite difficult to think of what seems to be less important, such as the service standards of a dealership or the length to complete a service for a team with great idleness. After all, what 's the difference if a job takes a few minutes longer? 

The difference, is to return even worse than when we entered in this crisis. Disorganized, untrained and under pressure from all sides.

Some possible scenarios

1) The market resumes and demand comes back to normal: the dealers were "forced" to reduce headcount without rethinking processes. When demand returns to normal, they are not capable to handle it. It can occur un-organized hiring, which contributes again to the swelling of an organization that will impact the bottom-line result. Chaos. 

2) Business resumes to a pace of lower demand: the dealers were "forced" to reduce headcount without rethinking processes. However, as the business will gain new momentum, again we have an organisation greater than the business can cover for, causing imbalance in the business. In this scenario, there will be layoffs ordered by the company's management, closing of operations, and increasing losses, making the scenario even worse. Later when the demand is increasing, this problem will grow. Chaos. 

Work smarter to avoid chaos!

In this time, when dealers have less demand,

we need, more than ever, scrutinize the day to day processes. 

What are they and how is the value flow of each one? Question which ones are really needed and if there are different ways to do them?

While some professionals speculate about the possible scenarios and what will happen after the crisis, not focusing on the processes, others however, study every part of its operations (not just the sales) and takes measures to prepare for the different possible scenarios . 

These operations will for sure come out of the crisis stronger.

Be honest: what situation do you fall into? Sitting still or are following a robust plan?

Lean is a system that teaches us to learn faster and it is a valuable philosophy to adapt to the constant evolutions which we are facing.

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