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In Part 1 of this series I covered the first part of my list including: not determining the Product (Process) Family correctly, not appointing a Value Stream Manager or VS Manager not performing his or her duties effectively, maps created by a “team of one”, and not considering items that don’t necessarily show up on the map (Change Management, training, communication, Teams, 5S, etc.).

Here are four more common mistakes I have witnessed over the years as people attempt to map their value streams.

5. Not updating the map – one of my favorite questions I received while presenting during a conference was “How often should we be updating our value stream maps?” I replied “Basically, whenever there is an important change, probably a couple of times per month or so.” There was a long pause and then the person said “I guess we are a little behind.” I asked “When was the last time you updated your map?” He said “Two years ago.” There was a big roar of laughter from the crowd. Obviously we need to keep the maps updated. For one reason it is easy to do if you use paper and pencil and also remember that we use these maps to communicate. If you don’t show your progress, you are not communicating effectively.

6. Trying to jump to a higher level Building Block (i.e., cells, TPM, Kanban) before the basic Building Blocks in place – In the ground-breaking book “Learning to See” the case study shows separate processes in the Current State and a cell with kanban in the Future State. In my experience, I have seen companies try to emulate the Acme case study and they just assume that creating cells and kanban are what they have to do in their first Future State. Maybe your organization is ready for that, but I have seen other groups that weren’t. It would probably be better if they focused on some easier techniques and practices (read: tools) first like Visual Workplace, Standardize Work, kaizen (small improvements), quality at the source  – just to name a few – to help drive behaviors that change the culture.

7. Not following the plan – This is a huge problem. We take all the time and trouble to create the plan and then we don’t even follow it. What a waste! There was a company that created their plan and decided to do other things that popped-up during the next six months. They stayed in their old mode of “fire fighting” instead of using the plan to improve the value stream. They even decided to redo the office (not on the plan) with new furniture instead of focusing on the more important projects from the plan. You created the plan for a reason, now go and implement it!

8. Not having an expert lead the first few events – The reason I say this is because people read books on VSM or even attend a seminar or workshop on VSM and then all of a sudden they think they are experts in VSM. Most books and training have to use case studies to present the ideas of Value Stream Mapping. In most instances, these are overly-simplified processes. To be fair, I use case studies also during training or seminars because there is usually not enough time to do a whole, real map and these maps are hard to see when projected up using PowerPoint. Real maps are much more developed. For instance a case study may show a few process steps for the information flow and a few for the material flow, but in real life there may be many process boxes used to represent the value stream; try to stick to only ten or so. A person that has drawn several maps can help determine the process families with the team, teach the team the correct way to draw the maps and in general facilitate a successful event. Since every value stream map is different, having a Value Stream Mapping Champion (subject matter expert) lead and teach value stream mapping to the others will produce superior results for now and for subsequent maps that the team creates on their own in the future.

Stay tuned for the last group. I hope this is informative and helps as you continue to learn, explore and use Value Stream Maps.

For more information on Value Stream Mapping, please visit our website www.5Ssupply.com.

HD-103_VSM_DetailWant to know the most common mistakes on Value Stream Maps?

Here is a list I compiled years ago while reviewing or seeing other people’s initial attempts at creating their own Value Stream Maps. I have used it during presentations to help share (yokoten) my experiences and hopefully help others not repeat the mistakes I have seen.

Here we go in no particular order:

  1. Not determining the Product (Process) Family correctly
  2. Not appointing a Value Stream Manager or VS Manager not performing their duties effectively
  3. Maps created by a “team of one”
  4. Not considering items that don’t necessarily show up on the map (Change Management, training, communication, Teams, 5S, etc.)
  5. Not frequently updating the map
  6. Trying to jump to a higher level Building Block (i.e., cells, TPM, Kanban) before the basic Building Blocks in place
  7. Not following the plan
  8. Not having an expert lead the first few events
  9. Not communicating the Value Stream Maps
  10. Calling other tools VSM (“butcher paper”, flowcharts, etc.)
  11. Using software to create maps
  12. Trying to collect too much data or not enough data

Over the next few blog posts I’ll go into a little more detail about each one. Please feel free to comment and let me know your thoughts.

1. Not determining the Product (Process) Family correctly – I think many people skip this step because they either don’t know that they are supposed to do it or they don’t know how to perform it correctly.

I visited a company that asked for help creating a Value Stream Map in their Customer Service area. I knew they had some Lean experience and have created Value Stream Maps before. When I asked them to share their Product Family Matrix, they said “What’s that?” Then I asked them how many different types of complaints they receive from customers? They responded hundreds (no judging please, it’s a large multi-national company to the consumer market). Actually, by creating a Process Family Matrix we discovered that they had six ‘types’ of complaints that had different flows through the process.

When it comes to creating this matrix I actually use the term ‘Process Family Matrix’ to include office areas that don’t traditionally think they have ‘products’.

Another company I worked with made covers for speakers that you’d see in the ceiling of office areas. They told me “we just make holes; we don’t need to do a Product Family Matrix.” I asked them if they would just humor me and go through the exercise. After completing the matrix we discovered that they had ten different Process Families!

By creating this matrix, you will have a better understanding on how your products or services should be grouped together – not necessarily how they currently are processed. In my experience, I have found that if you skip this step everything you do after is challenging; but if you do this (hard) step first, then everything after will be much easier. With practice this step does gets easier.

2. Not appointing a Value Stream Manager or VS Manager not performing their duties effectively – this is a hard one. Over the years I have seen companies attempt to create the ‘position’ of Value Stream Manager, but they seem to fail to grasp the concept. The two most typical scenarios I have seen include the Vice President of Operations saying they he or she would take on that role. That person usually doesn’t have enough time to do their own work let alone taking on a new challenge. At the other end of the spectrum, I have seen companies pick the new engineer to play the role of Value Stream Manager. Unfortunately, this person does not have enough experience to do this job. There needs to be someone in the middle that could fulfill this role. I understand the idea of a Value Stream Manager is very foreign to most organizations and they are unsure how this would work or even if it would fit into their company. One way to move this forward is to appoint a ‘Value Stream Manager’ – someone with enough experience in the company, is well respected and has the organizational skills to perform this role. Have this person focus on helping the teams complete any projects that were selected form the VSM. At this point, it might just seem like project management. It’s a start.

3. Maps created by a “team of one” – Having one person create the map means you only used one brain and two hands. The information gathered may be biased or even worse – incorrect. We are trying to make decisions for what is best for the entire value stream and that is hard to do with only one person. Make sure you use a good cross-functional team to walk the flow, gather the information and then draw the map. Of course you can have one person ‘draw the map’, but you need the input from the people that actually do the work to gather and collect data.

4. Not considering items that don’t necessarily show up on the map (Change Leadership, training, communication, team building, 5S, etc.) – Even though the maps will give us great information and insights for improvement, they typically do not have other enterprise-wide initiatives that an organization should undertake during its Lean journey such as setting up a 5S System, visual workplace, leader standard work, etc.. What I am trying to say is that a company needs to have 5S everywhere and value stream maps may only show an area or process that needs 5S, not the entire facility. So make sure you understand your overall goals and objectives as an organization (like items from catchball in Hoshin Kanri) to see if they fit into your VSM.

Also, other important items like soft-skills (i.e., communication or good change leadership) do not usually show up as an action item on a value stream map but are extremely important while implementing Lean. Don’t forget these items as you create your Future State and plan.

I hope these were helpful. In “Twelve Common Errors with Value Stream Mapping – Part 2” I will cover four more. Let me know what you think.

For more information on Value Stream Mapping, please visit our website www.5Ssupply.com.

Sign up for our free webinar “Value Stream Mapping: Understanding the Current State” with Mike Osterling.