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To prepare for your Value Stream Mapping training event, make sure that you communicate with not only with the team members, but to other employees too. Specifically mention it to employees that might have a high probability of being interviewed. Since most companies under-communicate with their employees, it is important to get this information out early and in several different formats. One company was very creative and placed posters around the facility announcing the plans for the VSM event. A key to good communication is that you are targeting your audience with a clear message. Since it is not uncommon for companies to think that they have done a good job of communicating when they really don’t; here are a couple of ideas that may help your efforts:

  • Use several channels of communication – don’t think that just because you mentioned it in passing during a monthly meeting that you met your obligation for clear communication. Pick several forms of communication such as: Alerts, Announcements, Articles, Board Meetings, Books, Bulletin Board Posting, Communication Board, Contests, Department Meetings, E-mail, Handouts, Lunch & Learn, Management Meetings, Newsletters, One-on-One Meetings, Paycheck Meetings, Plant-wide Meetings, PowerPoint Presentation, Seminars, Stand-up Meetings, Team Meetings, Videos, internal Website
  • Remember who your audience is – managers and supervisors probably need to know different information than the value-adders. For instance, a manager on the team will need to know how much time he or she will have to spend with the team. Supervisors may need to know who you may be interviewing and how this may affect their schedule or production. Operators or potential interviewees want to know what is this VSM ‘thing’ is about, why they were chosen to be interviewed, how much time will it take and even, will they get in trouble for saying the wrong thing (or telling the truth!).
  • Rate the effectiveness of the communication – just because you think you communicated well, doesn’t necessarily mean you have. Rate the effectiveness of your communication by performing quick audits by casually asking people if they know about the upcoming event. If people say “yes”, then you have probably done well. If they say they no idea of what you’re talking about, then your effectiveness is probably poor.

The key is good, clear, effective communication for all those affected by the VSM training.

If you need items for your VSM training event, check us out at http://www.5ssupply.com/shop/pc/Value-Stream-Mapping-c77.htm

A typical Value Stream Mapping team is made up of about seven people (I found this size works well), mostly managerial or supervisory level. Having a larger group makes it difficult to have everyone walk the flow and gather data. Having a smaller group tends to limit the ability to create a meaningful future state. Have an experience person lead the team and facilitate the first few events until you are comfortable with Value Stream Mapping. That includes bringing in an outside resource like a consultant.

Team members can be drawn from several areas within an organization such as:

  • Production control/scheduling
  • Operations management
  • Key floor leaders/supervisors
  • Information Technology.
  • Materials/logistics/warehousing material handlers
  • Marketing/sales/customer service
  • Accounting/finance
  • Human resources
  • Purchasing/receiving
  • Process/design engineering/engineering
  • Quality
  • Supplier/vendors
  • Internal/external customers

Choose people that are knowledgeable enough about the inner workings of your organization (also having an outsider or new person may be helpful), but the key here is that you trust these people enough to create the future state. Make sure the team fairly represents the scope of your project and that key stakeholders are involved.

Not everyone can be on the team. One of the ways to make up for this is to let people know that they may be interviewed to help with the process. A warning here – if you have 20 people in the customer service department you will probably not interview all 20. My recommendation is to interview someone that has a good working knowledge of the process family and is able to succinctly answer questions.

One of the best VSM events I facilitated included the customer (who was also the supplier of the materials). Many companies wouldn’t dream of letting a customer in to see their operations. This company was above that type of thinking. The most amazing things started to occur when we discovered that the customer/supplier was causing internal problems for this company and that many steps were redundant. This opened up everyone’s eye and discussions on improvement flowed forth.

Sign up for our free webinar “Introduction to Value Stream Mapping” on Thursday, September 29, 2011 and if you need items for your VSM event visit us at www.5Ssupply.com.

– Tony

Many books and articles do a great job explaining Values Stream Mapping especially for a product family, current state map, future state map and implementation plan. What about after you completed your first VSM? You already spent months completing the things on your VSM plan (well, most of them, anyway) so what do you do now? Here are two approaches you can use:

  1. Work on your first Value Stream Map again
  2. Start a second Value Stream Map

Do it again

Working on your original VSM again shows your commitment to continuous improvement. By already harvesting the low hanging fruit this will force you to dig deeper and really apply Lean Thinking to your processes. Most first attempts at VSM aren’t perfect, so this will give you a chance to improve what you have already worked on.

Start a New Map

The second thing you might consider doing is starting on another value stream map for a different Process (a.k.a. Product) Family. You don’t actually have to wait until you have completed the first VSM; it is more of a resource issue. Do you have enough people, time and the budget to start to make changes on another facility level value stream? Or maybe at this point you have discovered that you need to do some more process level maps to make improvements. My advice is to not get too focused one way or another. As soon as someone says we need to map out another process family, I might ask if they need to dive down in a little more detail. If they say that they should focus only on process level maps, I might suggest looking at another process family. The point is to not assume that there is only one right answer. It’s what’s important to the organization.

How to make the transition

This can seem to be daunting for some organizations. It’s not really that hard, you just have to be prepared for it. The first thing to remember is that the success of your first map will have an impact on your second. That is, how well you did completing your plan on the first map will set the stage for your next map.

One way to get ready for Future State 2 is to have a team meeting. Start by reassembling the original VSM team. Perform a review of the map and plan. Although the Value Stream Manager has been updating the map and the plan, it might be useful to do this one more time with the entire team present. Present the facts, current conditions, progress and completed projects or kaizen events. The next thing do is to talk about and capture lessons learned. A “lesson learned” can be a either good feedback or opportunities for improvement for next time. I doubt that anyone starting their very first value stream map is going to be perfect in execution the first time through. We need to learn from this including learning from our mistakes. Don’t be afraid to look at the cold hard truth about how well you did as a team completing your future state. Next, walk the flow again as a team. Focus on looking for waste. Talk with the value-adders to get insights on how things went and how they are going now.

After the walk the team has to make a critical decision; create a Future State for the original process family, start a new Value Stream Map for another process family or both. In my experience, it mostly boils down to resources; do we have enough people and time to start a new map now?

Sign up for our free webinar “Introduction to Value Stream Mapping” on Thursday, September 29, 2011.

For more resources for VSM, click here>> 5S Supply & Value Stream Mapping