At Peak Academy, we heavily stress the importance of working with what you’ve got – no new budget dollars, no additional people, and no new technology. This is one of the first concepts we teach participants in our Green Belt and Black Belt training. However, during times of prosperity, it’s easy for people to forget this simple principle and attempt to solve problems by adding new resources. Continuous process improvement is all about doing more with less, and during challenging times, we’re often not so subtly reminded of this. We must be resourceful and tap into our ability to find quick and clever ways to deal with new situations, overcome difficulties, and solve problems by working with what we already have available to us.  

As of March 16th, Peak Academy has been working from home due to COVID-19. Like everyone else, COVID has forced us to adapt to operating outside the norm of our typical day-to-day. For a team that thrives on engaging with our customers via face-to-face trainings, workshops, and one-on-ones, this has been a bit of an adjustment. We’ve tapped into and began utilizing tools such as Microsoft (MS) Teams and Skype for hosting virtual calls, meetings, and workshops. Within MS Teams, we’ve added a MS Planner page to help us manage projects and tasks we’re working on from home. Planner allows us to assign tasks, due dates, and track progress of each task. Peak Academy is also still offering Green Belt Training upon request as a live virtual training, and we’ve began developing a new all-online Green Belt training that will launch in the future for City of Denver staff.  

After three weeks of working from home and utilizing a TV tray, night-stand, and folding chair nestled next to my bed as my “home office”, I was becoming desperate for a more comfortable arrangement. Being the Nerdy Lumberjack of the Peak Team, I knew my solution also needed to live up to that moniker. For those that don’t know me, I enjoy spending my weekends tackling house projects and working in the garage getting myself covered in sawdust. Because of this, I knew exactly how to spend a chunk of my last weekend  – building a new desk.  

I got started by spending 30 minutes taking inventory of what I had available in my garage and found that I had four 10’ sections of framing 2×4’s as well as 5 smaller sections of 2×4’s all under 30” in length. I also had leftover paint, stain, and brushes from a previous project. After taking inventory of my supplies, I went to work designing a desk that I could build utilizing the materials I had on hand. Usually, I’ll sketch out the design for my projects with pencil and paper, but I decided to go digital and use my graphic design experience to create the plans, including the design and cut lengths, in Adobe Illustrator. After I’d confirmed the design would work with the materials I had on hand, I went to work cutting boards and assembling the top and frame for the desk. Because I was working with 2×4’s, I did a LOT of sanding after assembly to ensure a smoother finish. After sanding was complete, I applied a coat of stain and two coats of polyurethane to the top of the desk and two coats of white paint to the frame. Once the paint and polyurethane were dry, I finished the desk assembly and set up my new, more comfortable home office.

During these challenging times, think about how you can be resourceful and innovate with what you’ve already got available to you. While this time is hard for all, it will pass. When it does and we come out on the other side, let us show how we were able to adapt, grow, and be made better by this experience.  

Finally, I want to end with a shout-out to our essential workers, first responders, healthcare workers, and everyone else who is working tirelessly to help us navigate and weather this unprecedented storm. THANK YOU!

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