The Economy is Sick

Improvement Insights Blog

The Economy is Sick

If you’ve ever been sick, you know that the only thing you can do is wait it out. Here’s what we’re going to have to do:

“Hi, I’m Jay Arthur, author of “Lean Six Sigma for Hospitals” and the QI Macros [software].

“I know all of you have had some sort of cold or flu or been sick for a while. The day before Thanksgiving in 2014, I had this really heavy cough that came from the darkest recesses of my lungs and I said, “That’s not good.” Then I felt a little worse on Thursday, and on Friday I was diagnosed as having the flu. (I forget whether was A or B flu, I don’t know what it was) But I was sick, so I got away from my wife and slept in the guest bedroom so that I wouldn’t try and infect her. I was sick, but they didn’t tell me when they checked me out that flu is only supposed to last five days.

“Well, nine days later I was still sick, so I went to see my local doctor and he checked me and listened to my lungs and everything and I was fine, but a couple days later on Saturday I started having some trouble breathing. I didn’t know I was having that trouble because I’ve been sick too long. It was Monday before my wife said, “I don’t like how you’re breathing. I’m taking you to the ER.” I spent five days in one of the rooms because I had not just the end of the flu but also I had pneumonia. Now the doctors didn’t understand why I had a ten day thing; maybe I had a coronavirus and nobody knows, or I caught the A strain, and then B strain of the flu. Who knows? But one of the things about this was I spent five days in the hospital and then I spent like 25 days on oxygen: tethered to about a 15-foot cord and walking around the house and just trying to get well.

“I think if you look at the [economy of the] nation, the nation is sick, right? And it’s not doing… it’s kind of like me: I got sick and I was okay for a while, and then I needed intensive care, and then I had to go spend time on oxygen. I think that’s going to be kind of how our economy is going to be for a while, right? We’re going to be on this kind of crazy [path] but one of the things you know about illness: if you’ve ever had a cold or anything else, you wait it out you keep taking care of yourself. You stay at home, you rest and guess what? You get better.

“Now, it might have taken me months and maybe a whole year to really come back to full strength after that bout. I’d lost like 20 pounds in like ten days, so this is an ugly thing, but I think we’re going through the same thing as a nation. Now I know when it’s hard, when you’re trying to take care of a parent or a child or a spouse who’s sick, you have to wait it out whether you’re sick or not. You can’t really do a whole lot about it unless conditions and situations get worse and then you can say “Let’s go find an expert; a doctor or somebody to help me with that.”

“So now is the time, I think, to recognize that it’s going to take a little while. These are times when you can work ON your business, not IN your business to make things better, faster, cheaper then you’ve done in the past. Now’s the time to do those projects you’ve been putting off because you’ve got time to do them. All right?

“I’m Jay Arthur. That’s my Improvement Insight for this week. Sometimes you just have to wait it out. Let’s go out and improve something this week.”