Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Value Stream Mapping

In a nutshell, value stream mapping is a lean-management method for analyzing the current state and designing a future state for the series of events that take a product or service from its beginning through to the customer.  Now I'm not typically too big on theories, statistics, mapping, etc.  But when I read Value Stream Mapping: How to Visualize Work and Align Leadership for Organizational Transformation, I had to rethink a bit as I started to compare it to storyboarding - which I DO like.

Karen Martin and Mike Osterling have taken the confusion out of value stream mapping (VSM) and show how to utilize it in an easy and effective way.  They show us that VSM can not only be used with manufacturing, but also in logistics, supply chain, service oriented industries, healthcare, software development, product development, and even administrative and office processes.  Have you ever thought of using VSM as an effective means to orient new hires?  It can also "provide a clear line of sight to the external customer from every function and work area involved in the value stream".  How can that possibly not be good?

Hey, here's a novel idea from Karen and Mike - go the Gemba.  I love that term/idea.  Gemba, as they describe it, is a Japanese word for "the real place, where the work is actually done".  A critical step in VSM is physically walking the value stream.  I believe that's where most organizations fail right off the bat.  You must be willing to walk the talk.

You don't need to be a big statistics geek to understand what Karen and Mike are talking about here.  The book is well written and easily understood which will help you to quickly understand the basics of VSM all the way through the execution steps.  The historical problem with VSM is that people just don't understand it.  Well after reading this book, that will no longer be a valid excuse.

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