With COVID-19, what are your Rocks?

With COVID-19, what are your Rocks?

Any of you that have been through any Lean, you’ve probably been (overly) exposed to the “Boat travelling over the Rocks” graphic; with the gist of the graphic being that WIP (or something) covered up “waste” in your processes.

But I contend that COVID-19 has uncovered new rocks in business operations; i.e. a business continuity plan, tier 2 supplier performance, reliance on single sources, etc. 

Recently, I reached out to many via email offering assistance in Inventory Management; but it seems Inventory Management is unimportant to many as they’re reverting to Just-in-Case inventory which is truly a over-used Band-Aid instead of
addressing the root-causes (a.k.a. rocks). Why?

What are your “new” rocks and how are you addressing them?

I have suggestions, if you’re interested in discussing privately; email me at rkelly@globaloperationalexcellencellc.org

4 Replies
Ken Bauman
18 Posts

Nice graphic! 

It looks like most of the “rocks” noted are internal, but the most frustrating ones are those that we have no control over, or at least less direct control over. I suppose an effective countermeasure can be crafted for most rocks. 

One rock that we have less control over is the extra unemployment bonus that may keep our next group of production workers out of the shop, or whatever is keeping  people out of the jobs we offer. 

The longer it takes to get them into the shop, the longer it will take to grow them into supervisor, programmer, or planner roles. I think this will show up downstream for those companies that do not plan. 

I hope we are planning effective countermeasures for future staffing and growing our own talent.  


Ken Bauman


Another rock is brick an mortar mentality.   Many jobs can be done remotely for short or long periods of time.   What is to be done about, WAN, IT network ability, secure VPN communication  and providing secure methods of working remotely.      

Garrett Derr
162 Posts
Hello Ray,

Ours are State and Local health restrictions for operations and the inability to visit Tier 2 supplier facilities to perform root cause on reoccurring issues.

Some of our Tier 2 suppliers are struggling with manpower due to infected workers and technology challenges.
hi Ray!   this is a great (and timely) update of a classic graphics.  Covid really has added to the rocks, and thrown companies back to just in case.  Thanks for posting.  Henry Kraebber, Professor Emeritus, Purdue School of Engineering Technology.