The Strategic OpEx Resource You Need to Succeed in the Pandemic-Driven Landscape

by | Jun 23, 2020


Welcome to article #2 in my “Climbing the Reopen Mountain” series on using OpEx methods to help you face pandemic-driven changes. For more articles on this topic, see my blog list.

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What will you need to succeed in this strange new landscape?

Right now none of us even has a clear view of what’s coming, much less a roadmap. The only thing we can know for sure is that organizations need to be resilient, agile and speedy, ready to pivot on a dime to react to changing conditions. And there’s exactly one resource that can infuse your organization with those three traits.


Okay, I can just hear you saying it: Training? Really? Training? 

Yes, but not the training you’re probably doing today.

Imagine that you see a pandemic-driven opportunity. You successfully pivot and develop a killer new product to meet it.

But your workforce doesn’t have the skills to pivot with you. They can’t build or deliver it correctly. The inevitable result is month after month of rework, returns, warranties, unhappy customers and bad reviews. Worse, your fast-following competitors catch and maybe even pass you.

All because your training didn’t deliver.

But it CAN deliver and then some. If you make training a pillar of your OpEx strategy, it can make your people resilient, agile and speedy, ready to help you pivot to whatever new opportunities the changing landscape demands.

Step One: Embrace a New Training Paradigm

Most organizations tolerate terrible training. Long, boring presentations to big groups packed with too much (and frequently irrelevant) information. Or one-size-fits-all online training with employees clicking through slide after slide with one eye while surfing Instagram with the other.

Both of these approaches are typically followed by costly cycles of mistakes and retraining. Oh sure, eventually, people perform the work correctly, but what a horrible, wasteful, frustrating and time-consuming process for everyone.

If this sounds familiar, then your training organization will NEVER, I repeat NEVER, meet the goal I’m going to ask you to set in the next step.

Commit to having your entire organization view training as a critical process. Elevate its importance and commit to finding the best methods for your needs.


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Step Two: Create Ambitious (Even Scary) Strategic Training Goals

I’m not talking about putting more butts in classroom seats. Real strategic training goals need to help your business move the needle…a lot.

Take a minute right now to imagine this as your training goal:

“In two years, people at our company will learn twice as much in half the time and never make a mistake on the job.” 

Now imagine the possibilities. You could…

  • Implement advanced tech like 3D printing and robotics in half the time and with higher quality than your competitors.
  • Put the time, energy and resources that you used to need for correcting errors and mistakes into new products and process improvements.
  • Collaborate with customers more effectively on ideas for new products and services.
  • Take advantage of, or comply with, changing EPA, OSHA, FDA, and IRS regulations more quickly.

What could this goal do for your organization?

Step Three: Implement Effective Training Methods

It all starts with seeing training as a value stream, a process with inputs and outputs, that can be streamlined and optimized. Then you apply Lean tools such as Skill Assessment Matrices, Job Breakdown Sheets and the Sure Fire Method to eliminate training waste and ensure people learn exactly what they need at the exact moment they need it.

One of our clients is using those tools right now to get new engineers up to speed in half the time and performing virtually mistake free when they deploy to their work teams.

The company estimates this new process is saving them almost $1MM a year in total costs (classroom time, materials, improved productivity, fewer OJT errors). The hows and whys are too many to get into here, but if you’re curious about it, have a look at our Lean for Training case study.

What can Training as an OpEx Strategy Do for Your Organization?

If you’d like to explore the possibilities of what training as an OpEx strategy could mean for your organization, give me a call or send me an email.

And, as always, if you know someone who is struggling with operations during these pandemic times, please feel free to refer us.

Todd Hudson, Head Maverick