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Three New Things I Learned While Value Stream Mapping

January 26, 2010


While working with a team two weeks ago on Value Stream Mapping, I had a few discoveries that I never seen before. I probably have done over 100 Value Stream Maps with client over the years and I am still amazed at the power of VSM. Basically, we were creating a new program that had some elements of their old system that needed improvement and some completely new processes.

There were three things that I did this time that I never did before in a VSM event. Don’t get me wrong, I am a stickler for the sanctity of Value Stream Mapping, but I have found that every once in a while you can create something new to make the VSM successfully fit the organization.

VSM Satellite Icon1. I had to use an icon that I never used before – a satellite. I know that this is electronic information and is symbolized by the line with a “zig-zag” in it. But as you know, one of the main uses of a VSM is to visually communicate the value stream. In this case it seemed very applicable since we needed to visually convey that ships at sea were communicating via satellite with the land-based entities.

2. This organization was also preparing itself to become ISO 9001 compliant. In order to help this client out, they requested that we put measures or metrics next to our process boxes to show how they VSM Measures Iconwould know if that process was operating effectively and efficiently. This was the first time anyone asked me to do this for ISO. So we created a data box that look like a ruler labeled “Measures”. The team then listed measures that they thought would be a good indicator of the process and how they would know if they were improving over time. Now that’s good quality planning!

3. The third thing we did was to use Kaizen Bursts (Improvements) on a SIPOC (Supplier-Input-Process-Output-Customer) diagram. One of the things of being a good facilitator means knowing what tool to use when. This was a complex project covering many groups internally and externally. The team requested that we created a SIPOC diagram for a couple of new systems. While we were creating the diagrams the team members asked if we could put Kiazen Bursts on areas that they already knew needed improvement.

I like that I can continue to learn new things and find uses for value stream maps that are a custom fit for an organization.

Let me know your thought.

Thanks – Tony

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