A Lean Perspective: Preparing Your Hurricane Response Plan with Lean Six Sigma

While businesses of all sizes can be negatively impacted by a hurricane, small businesses are especially vulnerable. According to FEMA, approximately 40 percent of small businesses never reopen their doors after a disaster.

With the start of hurricane season less than a month away (June 1st), now is the time to prepare by reviewing your current hurricane response plan or developing a new one. And regardless of which, applying the methodologies and tools of Lean Six Sigma can be extremely useful.

If you’re developing a new plan, a lot of good information can be found on the internet. Some of the best websites include FEMA, OSHA, DHS, state government emergency management, and many of the large insurance carriers.

Consistently producing a desired outcome with efficiency and minimal waste can be challenging under the best of conditions. Doing so in the face of a hurricane (when many variables are out of your control) can be even more so. The challenge becomes even greater when taking into consideration the critical nature of response times (cycle times) and inherent resource limitations.

Additionally, the objective is no longer to produce the best widgets on the market at the lowest price or deliver award winning service; it’s to save your business and possibly human life. All of these factors make the application of Lean Six Sigma principles to your company’s hurricane response plan vitally important.

It’s important to approach the creation of a hurricane response plan as you would a manufacturing or service delivery process—by applying Lean Six Sigma process improvement methods and the associated tools such as:

  • DMADV (Define, Measure, Analyze, Design, Verify) – for developing new plans
  • DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) – for reviewing and refining existing plans

Other tools have specific applications, such as:

  • SIPOC (Suppliers, Inputs, Process, Outputs, Customers) – to assist with scope analysis
  • FMEA (Failure Modes and Effects Analysis) – to identify possible failures and their effects on your business

The first step in developing a Lean hurricane response plan is to do a scope analysis. When considering how to prepare for and respond to a hurricane, business owners sometimes become hyper-focused on securing tangible assets. As a result, they overlook aspects such as the potential disruption of the supply chain and the disruption of the delivery of products and services to customers. With the assistance of the SIPOC chart you can identify and plan for every relevant element, stage, step, etc., in your business process, from the supplier to the customer and everything in between.

Another important step is to perform a risk assessment. A FMEA analysis can be used to identify what could go wrong, the causes, and the consequences of each failure. Using the Risk Priority Number (a numerical measure of risk) can also help business owners calculate and sort risks from highest to lowest helping to identify which potential failures to address first.

Having a comprehensive and well-designed hurricane response plan provides a way to safeguard employees and property and ensure business continuity. Using the Lean Six Sigma methodology and its associated tools gives you a better chance to create the best plan you can.

If you have questions on the application of Lean Six Sigma to preparing a hurricane response plan for your organization, contact our Operational Excellence Team for guidance and more information. We are committed to helping our clients thrive in their business pursuits—and in the case of hurricanes, survive.

All content provided in this article is for informational purposes only. Matters discussed in this article are subject to change. For up-to-date information on this subject please contact a James Moore professional. James Moore will not be held responsible for any claim, loss, damage or inconvenience caused as a result of any information within these pages or any information accessed through this site.


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