What Was the Tool or System That Allowed You to Pivot So Quickly?

In this series, Jeff Kaas explains what the Kaas Tailored team learned about continuous improvement as we transitioned from making furniture to making PPE during the COVID19 global pandemic. In our first episode we explain why Kaas Tailored started making PPE, Today, Jeff talks about how the Kaas Tailored team reacted to this transition.

Our thinking allowed us to pivot quickly. If we believe that the machine serves people, for example, then the machine should actually make it easier for human beings to do what we think.

Our factory was already set up to be able to respond to whatever our customers might want from us, we call this pull. That’s an example of a system that existed because of what we believe about the laws of nature. One of the laws of nature that I really believe to be true is that those who can adapt will survive. It’s not about being strong. 

In our community, we have a bunch of blackfish called orca. There are some that are super picky. They only eat salmon. They won’t live long because they’re only going to eat salmon. There are other orcas, they eat almost anything. Those would probably be the ones that live. That’s the thinking that is reflective of the systems that we have.

Another really important decision we last year is that the Kaas Tailored will be about shining light and being a platform for people’s potential to be exposed. So, when you define yourself as a furniture guy, then when nobody needs furniture, you’re kind of screwed. If I identify myself as a lean consultant if nobody wants that you’re kind of screwed. Same thing with aerospace. At the moment, nobody needs airplane stuff, nobody needs consulting, and nobody needs furniture, so I’m kind of screwed either way.

However, our mission is about growing people whether we get to do this and get paid, or we get to do this as mission, or we get to do this as unemployed people doing it because that’s what we’re all about. So, the way that we did the definition of who we are, created this thinking and enabled this to happen. It’s nothing about the stuff, it’s not about the system. Every system should reflect what we believe.

In March of 2020, Providence Health and Services started the 100 Million Mask Challenge. The hope was to reach out to their local community to help create much-needed PPE, due to the COVID19 global pandemic. Within a few days, Providence and Kaas Tailored formed a partnership to rapidly-produce face shields and face masks for caregivers. As the new normal settled in, we realized how much we missed hosting guests in our factory and leading Waste Tours. We hosted a zoom call in early June and asked participants to send in their questions about waste and continuous improvement so that we could share what we’d learned about continuous improvement as we transitioned from making furniture to making PPE. Stay tuned for the rest of the series.