Written by Jason Haines
Throughout the Covid-19 crisis, we have learned how to cope with a lot of unknowns. We’ve learned right now nothing is our standard normal, but that we will be able to push through this current struggle.
The one thing that has been difficult to understand is the uncertainty that the future holds for us and the economy. Many people have had to take furloughs, layoffs, and job losses. Companies have either had to shutter completely or reduce their staff and still serve food via curbside pickup or delivery.
Factories have had to stop producing their normal consumer goods and start producing masks, ventilators, and other Personal Protective Equipment that will help protect frontline employees currently working through this crisis. Lean Manufacturing companies like C Tek are no different as they have adjusted their product catalog to produce their Sneeze Guard line. The Sneeze Guards come in many shapes and forms and can be fitted to any type of job or business; from the receptionist desk to mobile guards that protect grocery workers.
But, even in all this uncertainty, this crisis still feels different with the way that everything is going. Our supply of toilet paper and disinfectant have been depleted to a point that when you find some it is almost like Christmas Day. But it just feels like we will come out better on the other side of this current pandemic. Some businesses may disappear, but most will come back stronger than before.
As I was thinking about this, I wondered if there was any other period in history that may have looked like our current environment. After doing research, I discovered there were a couple of times in the American past that have resembled this current time. The first was during the Spanish Flu, between 1918-1920, where people were required to wear masks in public (or go to jail), and many businesses were shut down like they have been today. The second similar situation was during the era known as our greatest era, WWII. During both periods many people made sacrifices for the greater good of the people in this country.
The more I researched about the similarities in those eras, the more I realized that people had the exact opinions they do now. Maybe not in as much abundance as we see on social media, but there were a lot of similarities in thoughts and ideologies. There were cynics saying we should remain isolationists and stay out of the war; factories stopping what they were currently producing and starting to produce wartime needs; and consumer consumption dropping because availability of goods wasn’t there.
Then there were those who didn’t believe the government and dragged their feet to participate in the wartime effort. Does this sound familiar? But as I said earlier, we currently have a problem of too much information, back then was probably not enough information.
During WWII the United States industry had also developed a process called TWI, or Training Within Industry, to help produce in mass quantity products that were needed for the war. We wanted to be able to produce two tanks for the enemies one, two planes for their one, and two guns for their one. TWI helped the factories become more efficient and train people to do the job the right way the first time. This was where Lean started getting a name for the process of making quality products when the customer needed those products.
After WWII, Japan was hurt badly within their economy and country. Not only did they have to recover from two atom bombs wiping out cities, they also had to get rid of the stigma that Japanese products were of extremely low quality compared to the rest of the world. General Douglas Macarthur decided to help them with this process by introducing them to TWI and from there the TPS, Toyota Production System was developed. Japan then grew to be the third largest economy in the world.
As I was saying before, the world has been here before. Many of the consumers are not spending their money on wants right now because, and are currently saving so they can have that money for needs. A lot of this is due to the uncertainty of how long this shelter in place and lockdown will last in this country and the world. But when this ends, which could be soon because many states are implementing open orders, the economy will come back stronger than before just like after WWII.
People will be able to spend their money on their wants. People will start going to sporting events, concerts, and other activities. At first this may be slow, because of the fear that people will still have, but we will get back to enjoying those things that we enjoyed before this pandemic showed up.
Will everything be the same as before? That is another question we all must look at, and one that has so much uncertainty with it because we don’t know. None of us can predict the future, we can only hope to learn from the current situation and grow from there.
The same was true after WWII. Many of the European countries struggled after the war. These struggles came from shortages which were caused by the destruction of the towns, cities and countries. Houses, bridges, roads, and much of the infrastructure had been destroyed and the supply chain was a mess. People didn’t have enough food at this time and struggled to feed their families. The United States stepped in to help these countries with the Marshall Plan to help give money to the European countries and rebuild their economies. In a sense, we are currently doing the same thing to help these countries fight the spread of the Covid-19, sending ventilators and supplies to help other countries after we slowed the spread here in our country.
We, as a country, have come together in this time of crisis. Just like in all the times of crisis. Somehow, someway the people of this country find a way to come together and help each other when it is needed. Whether it be companies, people, cities, or states, we find a way to pull together.
We just must push through this current situation, be patient (easier said than done), and find ways to help others in this time of need as well. Do not panic because it will get better for all of us.
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