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Value Stream Mapping and the Walking the Flow

September 14, 2011


During a Value Stream Mapping event a team member asked “Why do we have to walk the flow, we can get the data we need by using our computer system and reports?” Here are seven advantages to walking the flow versus just data dumping in a conference room:

  1. The team gets to hear first-hand from the people who actually do the work and their perception of the status of their task.
  2. The team sees all the hand-offs and distances traveled just to get an order through your system.
  3. It gives you another chance to look for and see waste in your operations.
  4. It gets the people (value-adders) involved, their opinions are heard, and builds buy-in.
  5. It is a great way to verify management’s idea of what’s going on versus what is actually going on.
  6. The team gets to walk the entire distance and possibly see opportunities for improvement in layout; this may be a good time to draw a “spaghetti diagram”.
  7. It allows team members to become more familiar with areas that they do not normally visit in their daily routines

During this process of training the team will interview the people who perform the task to gather data and information. When you perform the interview, put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Remember, people may be nervous when they see a troop of people marching towards them with clipboards. The best thing to do is to communicate with people in advance that you will be visiting them to gather information for your Value Stream Mapping project. If it is not possible to contact the individuals ahead of time, another alternative may be to communicate to the entire staff via newsletter, bulletin board, departmental meetings or other means that a VSM event will be performed.

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

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