Categories : Lean Manufacturing Principles


Many companies are using Value Stream Mapping incorrectly!

I was working with a new client a couple of weeks ago. They asked me to come in and take a team through a Value Stream Mapping exercise.

value stream mapping

Value Stream Mapping

Their Production Manager had read an article in one of his journals explaining how Value Stream Mapping () was the first thing that must be done before implementing lean. It appeared that he had seen the lean light after reading this article.

VSM Team:

I arrived on the day and met with the management team to discuss the agenda for the day. One of the managers started to explain to me during this initial meeting, “The VSM team will identify how the company is under performing today and how to correct it. Then, each department can make changes to correct their own problems, right?” I sat gathering my thoughts as I usually do when I get that feeling that the answer was somewhat loaded. “Not exactly” I said “There are four steps to Value Stream Mapping.” He looked at me with a confused look, and then he said “Why four steps?” I picked up a dry eraser and went into a white board mode and I wrote down the four steps of Value Stream Mapping.

The Four Steps of Value Stream Mapping:

  • Step 1 – Data collection
  • Step 2 – Draw the Current State.
  • Step 3- Identify the opportunities for improvement and draw the Future State.
  • Step 4 – Develop a VSM .

He blinked a little and then said “Wow, I thought VSM was just doing Steps 1 and 2.” I explained to him that many companies don’t actually get past Step 2. They think that recognizing how they do things today is all they need to start making changes to their processes. The problem with this is that it does not focus valuable resources on systemic issues. It leads to people running off and doing their own , trying to improve things, which may not be the best choice for the system. We call this Point Kaizen”

This is a common problem when companies have a little knowledge without understanding the bigger picture. The purpose of the Future State and the implementation plan is to identify and prioritize the changes that are necessary to improve a process. It organizes their shift from their Current State into their Future State The VSM process is not complete until their Future State becomes their Current State

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 Posted on : September 6, 2010

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