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Now Available: A Makerspace’s Rapid Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Two months seems like a really short time in the life of the global pandemic. However, it was enough time for an organic response to the crisis and a demonstration of the best of collaborative potential, potential that produced over 28k face shields.

Four Themes Emerged


The trust-inspired confidence placed in Openworks the organization contributed to the success of the response to the face shield shortage. Since its launch in October 2016, the organization closely adhered to its mission of “...making tools, technology, and the knowledge to use them accessible to all (Open Works, 2020).” The effort to fulfill this mission required extensive outreach and cultivation of community relationships. While the benefits of developing substantial external relationships are not always immediately realized, a crisis may cause them to become more immediately evident. The value of Open Works’ external relationships was realized in the emergence of: 1. intersubjective volunteerism, 2. transformative volunteerism, 3. hyper-volunteerism, and 4. resource sharing. The convergence of relationship-building practices, or- ganizational trust among internal stakeholders, and crisis-driven opportunity resulted in volunteerism that advanced the goals of the project.

When Volunteerism Meets Lean Thinking

Volunteerism and mobilization were at the heart of the Open Works response. The mobilization occurred in the context of Lean approaches to standing up a production facility in a short amount of time.


Open Works’ supply chain created value for healthcare workers by providing supply (Liv- ington, Desai, & Berkwits, 2020). Value was defined by customers in the context of a global pandemic and resulting shortages of life saving equipment. Value rose as the threat increased and PPE was produced to meet demand. While insufficient supply and increased demand are expected to result in higher prices according

to traditional economic models, sensitivity to the crisis and the needs of current and future partners contributed to the use of pricing mod- els more consistent with Lean Thinking “target costings (Lean Enterprise Institute, 2020).” Target costing refers to “the development and production cost that a product cannot exceed

if the customer is to be satisfied with the value of the product while the manufacturer obtains an acceptable return on its investment.

Take advantage of the free download. Begin a conversation about the development of a new supply chain. There are many more stories to share and we are excited about hearing others.

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