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Twelve Common Errors with Value Stream Mapping – Part 2

March 18, 2014


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.

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