YOU DON’T NEED A GURU TO MAP YOUR VALUE STREAM

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KEY TAKE AWAYS

  • A Value Stream Map indicates at a macro level how the work flows through your organization, from request to fulfilment to the customer, and what blockages and limitations arise along the way.
  • When executed right and with the right people on board, Value Stream Mapping as an activity for leaders provides a huge incentive for continuous improvement and the Obeya initiative.
  • When leaders in the organization have experienced the current situation, understood the conditions of the work, outlined a future situation and have committed to some significant initiatives, that’s when they are set to go for optimized value streams.

Value Stream Mapping is a practical and highly effective way to visualize the flow of value in the company, to identify barriers with the team and build consensus for the right countermeasures. In practice, as a technique it is not that well understood, moderately implemented across the board, and as a consequence, often lacks the desired effect.

CUT THROUGH THE NOISE

It is not that easy to look at the nerve system of a company, searching for flow. There’s lots of fuzzy, noisy things that distract us when we try. But it is the smart thing to do if you want to adequately address lagging team performance, frustration in the workplace or poor decisionmaking. A Value Stream Map indicates at a macro level how the work flows through your organization, from request to fulfilment to the customer, and what blockages and limitations arise along the way.

Practice this with the management team and determine the strategic direction of data-driven improvements to the work process, across all departmental silos. The activity is all too often invested too low in the organization where it takes the form of a Process Mapping initiative: too much detail, too long-winded and too little impact due to its limited scope. This is unfortunate, and seems like a missed opportunity to me.

CREATE RESULTS FOR THE CUSTOMER

With a Value Stream Map we focus on visualizing the flow of materials and information, the connections between important steps or systems in the work process and the volumes of work that go through it, in a certain time frame. Value Stream Mapping is an exercise in understanding the complex work system by simplifying it and reducing it to its most essential goal: to result in valuable output for a customer.

You could argue that it is not so much about creating the Value Stream Map itself as some form of tangible evidence. It is much more about the exercise, about Value Stream Mapping as an activity. When we execute this expertly and with the right people on board, it provides a huge incentive for our continuous improvements and our Obeya initiative. It is then that we focus on the experience that leaders have when they are in discussion with each other and study the conditions under which the work process operates today in a realistic way.

AN EXERCISE FOR MANAGERS

Value Stream Mapping is intended precisely for the people who oversee the work process or are responsible for all of it. Managers with the authority and ability to set priorities, initiate activities or allocate resources. They should be the ones to participate and to encourage teams to take action after they have determined direction.

I am aware that transforming a value stream can be a major event and can cause a lot of uproar in an organization. That is why it is important that managers build confidence during the exercise about the flow of value, the data, the problem areas and the desired new situation, after improvements have been implemented.

Without people with the right authority on board who could be responsible for such changes, the chance increases that improvements fade away due to a lack of commitment. In fact, the Value Stream Mapping team is concerned with this one question: “What is the correct way to create value for our customers?”

IMPROVE THE FLOW OF VALUE

We need to do the right job, and do the job the right way; to maximize the end result with the least possible effort. This implies that people in the team come to talk about eliminating waste, leveling out unwanted variation, optimizing the deployment of resources versus customer demand patterns or increasing knowledge and skills in their teams.

The goal of Value Stream Mapping is, after all, an improved flow of value. When leaders in the organization have lived through the current situation, understood the conditions of the work, outlined a future situation and have committed to some significant initiatives, that’s when they are set to go for optimized value streams. I encourage you to go out and map your value stream today. The Value Stream Map is one of the crucial components of the Obeya Canvas we use at Apparens.

Author – Jeroen Janssen – https://www.apparens.nl/

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