Business Center

Summary of: “Value Stream Mapping: How to Visualize Work and Align Leadership for Organizational Transformation”

Authors: Karen Martin and Mike Osterling; ISBN: 978-0-07-182891-8
Estimated Reading Time: 3 to 4 hours (186 pages)

Summary by: Tracy Nguyen, Process Improvement Intern
Posted: May 23, 2014

Since many businesses lack a holistic understanding and view of their workflows, Karen Martin and Mike Osterling provide a guide to value stream mapping in hope to help organizations improve better strategize workflows. Value stream mapping is a tool that helps organizations analyze inefficiencies and disorganization throughout their workflow. In this book, Value Stream Mapping, Martin and Osterling provide advice on developing, managing, and improving value streams to help organizations become more efficient. The book depicts the benefits and processes of value stream mapping, along with excellent examples and value stream maps from five different industries. The book is broken down as follows:

Value Stream Management

The lack of understanding of how work flows is a major source of many organizational issues. This often time causes organizations to improve in one area, but develop complications in another like the implementation of expensive technology that does not necessarily address the underlying problem. The solution to this major issue is value stream mapping. Value stream mapping aids organizations to examine and better their work flows and allows them to see intricate work systems to find and fix problems. Not only that, there are many benefits of value mapping:

  • Visual unification tool - Value stream mapping allows team members to visualize the whole organization giving clarity and consistency on how work is done.
  • Connection to the customer - With value stream mapping, stakeholders can connect every function and sector directly to the customer.
  • Holistic systems thinking methodology- Employees can see the organization as a whole, giving them the ability to see the big picture and organize functions to improve performance.
  • Simplification tool - As businesses become more complex, the use of value stream maps will simplify how work flows on a macroscopic level, making strategic decisions easier.
  • Practical means to drive continuous improvements- Future-state value stream maps encourage organizations to constantly adjust and improve various aspects of their work flow.
  • Effective means to orient new hires - New employees can instantly see how they fit in the company and how their role affects other departments.

Also, Martin and Osterling warn readers of various drawbacks of value stream mapping:

  • Using the mapping process solely as a work design exercise - value stream mapping can improve work flows and processes, but the main purpose is to change the mindset of the organization.
  • Using the map to make tactical improvement - Avoid the misconception that value stream maps are for tactical level improvements. Tactical level improvements are ideal for process maps, not value stream maps.
  • Creating value stream maps during a kaizen event- Kaizen events, which are two to five day events focusing on improvements that are designed and implemented in the work environment, generally using process maps. Value stream maps compared to process maps are a more high-level strategy which take precedence over kaizen events.
  • Creating maps but taking no action- Value stream mapping must have all three components: a current state maps, future state maps, and an action plan to get to both the current and future state maps.
  • Mapping with an inappropriate team (or no team at all)-Individuals with authority over major organizational change must be involved in value stream mapping to be successful.
  • Creating maps with no metrics - Without a measurement or baseline, companies cannot show whether they have improved or declined in performance.

Before value stream mapping can begin, the organization needs to establish a structure for mapping activity. The book recommends value steam mapping structure is a three phase approach:

Phase 1. Setting the Stage and Enabling Success

  • Before establishing value stream mapping, organizations need to set the stage. Proper planning is essential to value stream mapping—without it the activity will not succeed. Planning makes certain leaders of an organization understand the benefits and the process of value stream mapping. Also, the organization as a whole needs to understand the reasoning behind any substantial changes brought by value stream mapping. Planning must have a charter which develops a consensus for the project by clear communication. The following steps are recommended in the planning process:
  1. Lay the ground work- Involving as many of the organizations' leaders as part of the value stream mapping and a value stream mapping need to have a comprehensive understanding of the process.
  2. Develop a value stream mapping charter-A value stream map charter is used as a tool for communicating a plan and build consensus among team members. A charter has various components, but a few are:
    1. i.   Current state problems and business needs- The organization has to state what their goals are and agree what needs to be done to improve or change to meet  goals.
    2. ii.   Logistics - This portion of the charter discusses the time and dates for the mapping activity and meetings as well as the location.
    3. iii.  Benefits - Listing the benefits to both the customer and organization will add need and clarification for value stream mapping and reduce opposition.
    4. iv.  Agreement - Final portion of the charter which is the signature section indicating support for the document.
  3. Socialize the value stream mapping charter - Martin and Osterling use the term "socializing" instead "communicating", because they want to make the distinction that socializing Is much more involved, requiring engaged dialogue and understanding among leadership.
  4. Collect Data- Data collected is dependent on the industry and the goal of the organization, but it needs to be collected to help compare and forecast future results and goals.

Phase 2. Understanding the Current State and Designing the Future State

  • The second phase of value stream mapping is understanding the status quo or the current state of the organization. Organizations have difficulties improving work processes when they do not have a clear understanding of how the current work is being done. Observing and researching the value stream in real time is vital. Steps to documentation of the current state include:
  1. Walking the value stream- Team members must physically "walk" through the work process, before creating the current state map. The team members must have first-hand observation of the workflow and understanding the sequences that make up the organization.
  2. Laying out the map- After the "walk" through of the value stream, the team can begin laying out the basic value stream map and the process blocks involved. They need to establish a basic framework with descriptions of each process activities and functions.
  3. Walking the value stream a second time- After the process is chronologically laid out, the second walk is done. This time the team should collect data such as the process time, lead time, percent completion and accuracy.
  4. Adding details to the map- Details discovered from the second walk should be added to the process blocks on the map. Mapping of the information flow is essential, as is observing how information moves throughout the value stream.
  5. Summarizing the map- The team finalizes the map which illustrates a timeline showing the present workflow speed, amount of work, and resources used.

The organization should conduct a meeting once the current state mapping is done to acknowledge any issues and, more importantly, accept the need for change into an improved future state.

  • Once the leaders of the organization understand the current state, the goals shift from researching to devising solutions. This phase mainly consists of adding necessary processes and removing wasteful ones. When creating the future state map, the organization should consider the three main facets for the future state:
  1. What work should be done- The team needs to consider what processes should be eliminated or added to the work flow.
  2. Making that work flow- at this phase, the team need to consider the structure of the correct workflow that has no delay or use of unnecessary resources.
  3. Managing the work for optimal performance- After removing and adding various aspects of the workflow, the the team must establish an evaluation system to monitor and sustain improvements.

After the organization has chosen the fundamental improvements, the organization can start documenting the future state design. Much like design the current state, the organization must address what needs to be done, who needs to do it, and create a timeline to follow.

Phase 3. Developing the Transformation Plan and Achieving Transformation

  • The final phase of value stream mapping focuses on developing a transformation plan, to be executed to reach a future state. A transformation plan is dynamic and is continuously updated and edited.
  • After developing the transformation plan, the organization can execute and sustain improvements which are often times the most difficult parts of the whole process. Achieving transformation takes consistency and the success is entirely dependent on the communication or the socialization of the maps and transformation plans. Socialization goes beyond distributing the transformation plan and maps. Socialization involves engaging dialogue such as meeting discussing and explaining transformation plans or answering questions about value stream maps. In addition, the transformation map is not absolute. As team members execute the plan, new improvements or adjustments can be added which lead to a higher chance of success in reaching future goals.
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