5 Things You Should Know About Value Stream Mapping
“The behavior of the system doesn’t depend on what each part is doing but on how each part is interacting with the rest” – Peter Senge. Successful lean leaders are process and value-stream thinkers. They understand that a product or service-provider’s value proposition comes from a series of process steps that create the product(s) or service(s) and that these process steps work most efficiently (doing things right) and effectively (doing the rights things) when there are no silos or walls between them. Each step and each function participates in flowing streams that create value – value steams. Silos disrupt the flow of value and create waste.
Value Stream Mapping is About Process Management
It’s a lean leader’s role to manage the value adding operations and processes that connect with customers. Why?
- To create management work that plans and improves the stability of work that produces the value proposition.
- To reduce waste and solve critical problems of instability and variation.
- To keep the focus on total cost reduction.
- To teach and train front-line team members on lean principles and their application.
Work is complex, but value stream mapping simplifies complexity and visually displays how work gets done. This alone makes it an invaluable tool for objectively assessing organizational performance, but value stream mapping is powerful for other reasons. For instance, it depicts how important it is for linked processes to work together smoothly in order to create value. When something is blocking the flow of value, it shows up on value stream mapping in very clear terms as waste, i.e., piles of inventory, long wait times for a task to be performed, duplicate work, unnecessar y processing. And it does so without placing blame because people are not being mapped – processes are.
Value steam mapping is also fact-based and objective. Unlike a report, the map shows what is happening, not what someone thinks is happening.
Understand, Visualize, and Articulate the Processes That Make Up the Value Stream
Another thing value stream mapping does is ensure that all processes within the stream are following the same improvement plan – from the current state to the future state. It is a critical tool for getting your entire organization to work as one.
This can be a difficult transformation for some employees because it requires maturity, flexibility, and humility. Some people just don’t have these qualities. They will be the first to leave when they realize that the lean culture change is for real.
Value Stream Mapping is About Visual Management and Flow
A traffic intersection is a perfect example of the need for visual management. The intersection is a place where people and process connect. Therefore, visual management is required to ensure people see as a group, know/decide as a group, and act as a group. Think about the chaos that would be caused if there were no visual management at a traffic intersection. The street lights and signs connect people to people, people to process and process to process. However, consider the lack of visual management requires in a roundabout. This is due to the fact that the roundabout is based on flow. With continuous flow, processes are not decoupled, and therefore we do not need visual management to connect people to process and process to process. The only thing required is a very good understanding of standard work.
Value Stream Mapping is About Improvement
A single value stream map should result in multiple improvements that align with the group’s KPIs. Making major improvements in only one area of the map is not a success. Likewise, don’t stop at one map. As the synergy of your continuous improvement effort builds, you teams should be identifying multiple areas to apply value stream mapping. Some of the maps will result in a quick transformation from the current state to the future state; and others will require more time.
Posted by LeanCor Supply Chain Group
LeanCor Supply Chain Group is a trusted supply chain partner that specializes in lean principles to deliver operational improvement. LeanCor’s three integrated divisions – LeanCor Training and Education, LeanCor Consulting, and LeanCor Logistics – help organizations eliminate waste, drive down costs, and build a culture of continuous improvement.Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Google+