Value Stream Mapping (VSM) (3-hour Class)

Original price was: $49.00.Current price is: $0.00.

One of the more popular tools in Lean methodology is a Value Stream Map (VSM). It is the structure for capturing the entire system, from the time your customer requests a product or service from you, to the time you deliver that product or service.

VSMs are a great starting point for improvements, as they allow you to see the system constraint, and see how all the individual processes work together (or fail to do so), and the impact that has on the overall response time to the customer.

We will cover the 4 areas of a VSM: Information Flow, Material Flow, Data Boxes, and Timeline.

We will use a simulation to help you observe the process, collect data and each major step, and teach you to be able to create your own VSM for you processes.

This workshop does not have any upcoming live classes scheduled, so please watch the free online video below, and download the slides for reference.


One of the more popular tools in Lean methodology is a Value Stream Map (VSM). It is the structure for capturing the entire system, from the time your customer requests a product or service from you, to the time you deliver that product or service.

VSMs are a great starting point for improvements, as they allow you to see the system constraint, and see how all the individual processes work together (or fail to do so), and the impact that has on the overall response time to the customer.

  • What is VSM?
  • Benefits of VSM
  • VSM Elements
    • 4 areas of a VSM: Information Flow, Material Flow, Data Boxes, and Timeline.
  • Exercise
  • VSM Process
  • VSM Symbols
  • Summary
  • Resources
  • Q&A

Watch the recording of the last full workshop held in September 2017 in Portland, Oregon.


Download the PDF slides

Download the VSM Data Box Templates

Self-paced online Lean Fundamentals course – includes VSM



Brion (B): Welcome. Thanks for coming, guys. Let’s talk about value stream mapping. I wanted to find out, first, what your background was in this before I get too far just so I have a little bit better understanding of where you’re coming from and I can adjust my detail as we go along here. This will be the agenda for today and then we’ll do some quick introductions.

We just want to talk about value stream mapping itself, what it is, what are the benefits of doing one, and then we’ll get into breaking down the map into different elements and we’ll go through a really simple exercise, looking at a video and trying to put that into a value stream map format. Then we’ll talk through the different steps you go through to go through an exercise to create a value stream map and then talk about some of the symbols that go along with that and then see if there are questions and things that come up. It’ll be nice that you guys are all from the same company so you can talk about specifically and if we have time, we can actually go through and start to sketch out something so it connects to directly the type of work you guys are doing, so customize that directly with your work.

Real quick, I’m Brion Hurley. My background is in Lean and Six Sigma of course. I spent 18 years at an aerospace company doing the same work. This last couple of months, I’ve been doing full-time with BPI, so that’s my consulting company, and I’m really focusing on sustainable businesses and working with some nonprofits through a group called Lean Portland because we have a volunteer group. That’s how I met Doreen. We work with like Rebuilding Center and Free Geek, and Oregon Entrepreneurs Network and we just help them, teach them basically, concepts and tools that help them with a project. That’s an opportunity for you guys. You guys are a nonprofit, so there’s an opportunity that we can get some help from our Lean Portland team to help out with some of the activity, at least provide some of the training with them.

So most of my background was in Six Sigma. I started in statistics and then moved into the quality world at Rockwell Collins. And then they were going through a Lean initiative that was pushed on them by Boeing, that’s one of their largest customers, who was going through its own Lean transformation as well. And so through that work, I got slowly pulled into the Lean activity because there’s a lot of commonality overlap with those two initiatives. And so brought in a lot of Six Sigma into the Lean program and then had a blended approach that we took forward. Then I worked at a couple of different facilities, one in Florida and one near Wilsonville, that I was the primary Lean Six Sigma contact, so I did the training and managed the projects and worked with the leadership on these initiatives. So I’ve seen a lot of different situations and used a lot of the different tools. And so I just set up these workshops just to feel what knowledge people had and what interest they had in certain tools, and that’s how I’m gauging what people need actually, so just been throwing out these different ideas. Probably early next year, I’ll redo the whole workshop series I set up, which is basically hitting up on all the key tools. I’m doing them in these three-hour blocks of 9 to 12 or 1 to 4. That’s a little bit about me.

So we won’t get into a lot of the background of Lean today, just kind of jumping into a specific tool, but there’s some other workshops I can point you to that are free that Lean Portland offers with Kjell van Zoen. We’re not a partner but we’re like a partner. So we work together a lot and him and I teach a workshop and so I’ll send you some information on that and you can see if that’s interesting to you. If you want more history and background of the concepts and principles. So we’ll jump into a specific key tool of Lean, but I’ll touch on some of those things as we go along here.

Let’s start off, obviously, VSM is an acronym for Value Stream Map and it’s really that – to try to figure out what is the stream of value as it goes through an organization. One of the key things that’s really unique about a value stream map is that it ties the customer through the loop at the beginning and at the end. They ask for something, they want something, they need help from you and your organization. How long does it take to go through your system before they get what they need? sometimes we look at our own individual processes and what our piece of the puzzle is to the overall; the value stream map looks at it from a system perspective and that’s where we’re trying to optimize. We’re not trying to optimize billing and we’re not optimized the doctor’s time, we’re trying to actually optimize the flow for the customer or the patient.

When you look at it, value stream map allows you to see where the value is created and how long it takes to go through there, so we’ll break out those elements in here. It also brings in this idea around the information flow – how does information get handed off and passed off and communicated through the different departments and different processes, so we’ll show you where that fits into the map. The customer requests a product or a service from your organization and then they get that product or service and we’re mapping out the timeline of how long that takes. Usually, what you’ll find is that the time from when they ask for it and when they got it is a lot longer than the time it actually takes to do the work to get that information or provide that service to them and it’s usually a fraction of the time. When you include the 24-hour cycle and clock and weekends and stuff, you start realizing that what takes two hours of labor in your organization takes two weeks in the patient’s eyes and what they experience. So one of the first things we’ll do with the value stream map is try to chop that time down and say why does the patient get hung up along that process and how can we break those barriers so they don’t get hung up and once we start working with somebody, how do we get them through the system with the highest quality but quickly as well because the more we have in the process, the more we get hung up on things. So we’ll talk about that a little bit more.

Usually, this is conducted in an event format – 3 to 5 days. It could be as short as half a day and break it up into multiple days but, usually, to get the full experience, it’s going to be a multiple-day session. And so you can either rip the Band-Aid off and do it all at once or you can try to piecemeal it together over some half-day sessions, but the idea is that – and we’ll talk about this is the process and why it takes that many days to go through it. So just doing a map doesn’t take multiple days; it’s the activity to get to an action plan that people buy into and you can go execute on. That’s where the extra days take time. The map and everything with process improvement, the goal is not to make the tools or to use the tools; the tools are the catalyst or the template that rallies the team together around whatever issue they’re looking at and so the tools are there to supplement the discussions and the dialogue and the observations and the data analysis that goes on in the process. You can make a map very quickly, you can do it at your desk, but that doesn’t accomplish the goal of building a team around the system in the value stream and making everybody understand what the customer experience looks like.

MS: Do you have any advice for working with teams that are struggling because they feel like they have so much to do and you don’t have time to do something like this and that challenge?

B: Getting over that first hump.

Male Speaker (MS): To train them on a tool that you’re going to be using etc. any sage advice for that?

B: The training, I like to do that just-in-time, that’s a Lean concept too, is not way in advance so they forget the information, but we would have a value stream map training session scheduled and there would be training like this at the beginning of the session. But more of it would be, “Here’s the overview. We’re not going to get into all the details; you’re going to learn it as we get through this exercise.” So we try to time up the training with just-in-time with when they’re actually going to apply the tool and then they’re really going to learn it best as we’re going through but they’ve got a high-level understanding of what we’re doing, where we’re headed, but that’s where the learning going to take place when you start putting a map to their process and what they are familiar with. Some people basically provide way too much training in front and then there’s no application to it and then that knowledge, you’ll lose that knowledge very quickly.

Getting over the hump of how do I carve out time and I’m already very busy, it’s the analogy of sharpening the ax. I’ve got this dull ax and I’m cutting down a tree. At some point, if I just stop and sharpen the ax, I can go a lot faster. But if I just keep hacking away at it with a dull blade, it’s going to take me longer and be worn out. So that analogy, at some point, we have to take the time and invest into this to move forward and actually improve the process. But that’s very difficult and I don’t have a perfect solution for that, but it’s just that commitment that says we’re going to start to carve out time to do improvements. Because we’re never going to be done with actions, we’re never going to run out of problems; that’s always going to be there. What we can do is start to say every Friday afternoon, we’re going to carve out two hours and we’re not going to fight fires and we’re going to do improvement work. You can do something like that to start moving in that direction. But, yeah, that first initial hump is very difficult.

The other approach could be is you start working on some very simple improvements in their own area. I have another workshop called Personal Lean where just people look for things that they do that’s not really connected to other processes but I’m wasting time going to the printer a lot, I keep losing my pens or I keep losing things. How can I get more organized by myself and save a couple of minutes here, a couple of minutes there, that will eventually add up to some free time that I can now breathe? or I’m going to spend an hour training somebody who can be my backup when I get overloaded and then that can give me some protection so I can go spend a four-hour session somewhere. Yeah, at some point, someone has to decide that this is important and I’m going to make the time for it because it is hard to carve that time out. Then once you get some success there, then that frees you up to continue that effort or get to the stuff that you haven’t been able to get to. Do you guys have other thoughts?

Female Speaker (FS): I guess the one other thing I’ve seen is that, once you have a win, it can help convince people to do that. So if you can find an area that’s more willing to go along with it and then show like, “Wow, look what their outcome was,” it helps people understand that lean can work in their area. That’s what I’ve found. That’s why I’ve always been a big fan of pilots, especially you get those people that are really into pilots and they’ll pilot with you and then you can go out and sell it to everybody else.

MS: Success stories.

B: Yeah, because they want to know that I’m going to give up time and I want to know that I’m going to get that time back at some point and so seeing that there is already somewhere else in my own organization. I can read all these case studies from other companies, but when I see it in my own company and organization, that helps them have more confidence that it is going to be a worthwhile investment.

This is the format of what a value stream map looks like. The section up here – let me just walk through here – this is the customer at the far right and it’s got these little triangle shapes on the top. It’s supposed to look like a factory, that’s where a lot of the stuff gets started, in factories, at manufacturing companies, but the concepts are applicable to any type of organization. It just is starting to migrate and move into other nonmanufacturing environments. We have a customer over here, then there’s some single, either manually like through a straight line like – I know this has it on there – but if there’s a straight line, that means there’s manual information that’s being passed on – I’m telling you or I’m giving you a piece of paper. And then a jagged line like that means there’s electronic communication – there’s email or a database update or something that triggers that the customer wants something, they need something, and it goes into some kind of system that could be production control or could just be your health market system.

Whatever that system, the information is going in there from the customer that starts the process and then there’s communication to go out from that system to different parts of the process. That’s the information flow that you want to capture and that can be done on a weekly basis, a daily basis. Sometimes, that information flows back that that process updates the system with information and updates what’s happening, so that could be a double-ended arrow back and forth. Sometimes it’s more of a push of information out and there’s nothing that comes back to the system about what’s going on. That’s how you can communicate the information flow at the top.

The material flow is then actually the value stream and the steps, so this would be four different major steps that it goes through. With a value stream map, you want to keep it very high level because the goal is to identify areas where we’re going to deep dive into. We don’t want to deep dive into all the areas starting off; it’s just overwhelming. If you’re getting more than 10 or 12 process steps on here, it’s probably too detailed. Try to keep it to that level and that means, within one of those steps, there’s going to be a lot of detail and a lot of activity going on, but first, this is looking at the system when we’re trying to understand where are the opportunities in the whole system. Then we’ll go in and dig into these one or two problem areas but let’s not deep dive until we see that there’s a need to go deep dive in that area at this time.

We will find plenty of opportunities throughout all the processes; this is trying to highlight the areas that are most troubling or most opportunity. That would be the material flow of the steps that the patient maybe, in your guys’ case, or documents flow through the system in an office like process or, in a manufacturing process, this is how the parts flow through. Whatever that value you guys provide to your customer, that’s what’s going to flow through there. And we’re going to take the 80/20 rule. 80% of the time, what happens? If you get worried about this one time, this one thing happened and then, in some rare cases, it could do this or that. We’re just trying to say what happens most of the time. The majority of the time, what does that look like? Let’s just capture the major things.

FS: Brion, one of the questions I have, and this is later, but one of the problems I have when I try to draw a map is if there’s a fork in the process. I haven’t seen a lot of examples that show that, so that’s where I get a little stuck.

B: I have some people put a fork in the process.

FS: So you would just make a fork?

B: You would have a separate one maybe and then, if it comes back together, that’s okay too. If it diverts completely, you can have a separate map.

FS: I think in the ones I have, because we were looking at the flow of our tickets, which are like our claims through the system, and you review it and then it’s more than 20% of the time, it has some problem. The other times, it’s clean, and so you just fork it off, is that what you’d say? because it does come back together at some point.

B: Okay, if it’s a rework step or some non-value-added step to fix the problem…

FS: It’s typically non-value.

B: Okay, then I would just put a yield number in there, like 74% yield. And then I wouldn’t put in the rework; you just know that there’s going to be rework actually that happens. And then if this is the big area, then I might get down into a process map detail of mapping out what the reworking looks like. But I would just highlight that the yield is poor in that area but I wouldn’t spike it out in the map unless it’s going through a tremendous amount of extra work and there’s a high percentage of stuff that’s going on there.

FS: That’s pretty much what we’re seeing now. So we could do it either way – either do a fork or do a separate process map, but the yield is a great idea.

B: And then just highlight bursts that we have poor yield in this area that’s one of our opportunities to go and dig into that, reasons and why that’s happening and maybe capture all the waste that takes place to deal with those failures in the process.

FS: Okay, thank you.

B: So those are the steps and then, underneath there, is called a data box. Usually, what we’ll put is the name of the step and then a little description of what that is. This doesn’t have the description on there. Sometimes the names aren’t quite as clear or there’s not a fine separation point between the steps, so you just want to document what that means, like a sentence or so about what goes on in that step just so people can read it and say, “Is my step in this one or this one?” and they can read and say, “I’m in this one, from the time that this shows up till when send it off to here,” and that would be a little descriptor in there.

Then the data boxes would be information about what goes on in this process – what are the high-level metrics and data we can summarize this process around. So this one is around cycle time, this is change over time, so when I switch from one patient to another or one part to another or switch and go to a different type of document, how long does it take me to switch to the next type. This could be uptime could be another metric you use, like how much of the time is the system available for us to get into and use. Yield would be another number you can put in there. We also put inventory. That shows up as data but it’s sometimes documented outside of the box and that would be how much inventory is waiting to go into this process at this point in time. So if that’s patients, how many patients are waiting to get into this first step on average or typically or, right now, what are we observing, and so you document where the inventory is backed up.

FS: So like a backlog?

B: Backlog basically, yeah.

FS: But it in a non-manufacturing setting.

B: Here would be now here are the ones that are processed in this first step, how many are now waiting to get into the second step?

MS: Where do you put the backlog again? You just make a notation?

B: Right before the step. Yeah, so this would be like “I” would be an inventory symbol and then you just write in – this could be people or this could be number of requests or orders or cases. Whatever flows through there, you’re just documenting that. Or they’ve got it in terms of days, like how many… Actually, they don’t have the actual inventory listed on there. I’ve seen it also they just put the inventory into the data box itself, but sometimes it’s listed underneath, so I like it underneath. This is just how long in days, so I’ll get to that here in a second.

Other metrics under there would be the number of people, and that’s listed here, how many people work in that area. If you have any costs that you can tie to that, you can put those in there. The metrics are pretty open. You can decide what metrics are important. The goal is to highlight the opportunities. If you have occupancy rates or if you have staff availability, if those are issues, then you want to capture those as metrics in there. Or maybe it’s absenteeism from the employees or it’s overtime percentage or anything that you think will help identify or highlight a problem or an opportunity, then you want to put that in the data box. There’s some generic ones that I’ll show you on the symbols sheet, but you want to make it match and be relative to the type of work that you’re doing. Sometimes, in an office transactional type environment, it might be the percentage of time I get complete and accurate information from the prior step. So if they send me a form, what percentage of the time is it filled out properly with all the right information. Those could be some pretty alarming statistics if you start looking at them, how poor that is. That’s a very common metric in Lean to look at on this type of processes – like a yield of that process.

That’s the data box and then the last piece is called the timeline. What we’re doing is we’re capturing the total time it takes to go through this whole process. So it’s wait time upfront in the process, so if something comes into the area and it’s ready to go into that, how long does it take before you actually start working on that? let’s say a patient arrives in this area, and how long do they wait before they actually get started into this process. And then the bottom number is how long it actually takes to go through that process once you start or it’s the value-added part of this, the actual important work that’s being done. This would be the lead time, and this is actually like the cycle time. What we see is usually a big discrepancy that the waiting time is much longer than what the actual time to do the task is.

As we look at each of these steps, you start to add up the time on the top versus the time on the bottom and you start seeing these big discrepancies between how long does it actually take versus how long people are waiting to get through that process. This numbers always going to be larger than this bottom number because it includes that number. This number is the wait time plus the cycle time – I’ll show you that in the next slide here. But what we end up with is a total lead time and then we have value-added time, which is the bottom, so you’re basically adding up all the top row and then adding up the bottom rows and that’s going to be your ratio of value-added time to total time. So for this particular process, it takes 68 days to get through the system, from the time the customer asks for that item before they get that particular item, but it only takes 15 minutes of actual value-added time to actually do that one request. The reason is because there’s probably a lot of work waiting in between the processes for various reasons and we’ll talk about that.

Let me break down this timeline a little bit better. On the upper part of the bar or the box, you have a lead time and I’ve even seen it broken out into the cycle time and then another level down where they’ve broken out one of the cycle times is actually value-added time. In the Lean overview, we talk about value-added time being stuff where you’re actually improving or enhancing the item that you’re processing – whether it’s a document or a patient or a part. It’s actually getting value with the work that you’re doing to it. I could be spending time with a patient and provide zero value or I could be spending the time and all the time, I could be providing value to them. Some people, on the bottom rung, it’s either I can get cycle time but I don’t have a good idea how to break out how much of that time is actually valuable and in some places, I’ve seen they actually have broken out what’s valuable, and so they put another number below that, and that’s always going to be less than the cycle time. We’ll talk about it a little bit more as we go through one of the exercises, but there is, often, a big difference between how long it actually takes to do the task and how much of that time is actually value-added or not.

So that’s the process – you have a lead time and a cycle time or a value-added time, depending on how detailed you got. And so you might have something like 38 minutes there, 30 minutes of actual time, so it waits eight minutes prior to that process, basically, because there was a gap of eight minutes between there, and 10 minutes of that 30 minutes is actually value-added, so there’s 20 minutes of non-value-added time or whatever you call wasteful time in there. So that’s sometimes how is I see it written, but often, this isn’t available so we just have 38 and 30 at the bottom.

How that looks is let’s break out this 30 minutes here. There’s 38 total minutes, that is it shown up into that area, in that process, 38 minutes ago and then, at the end, it leaves the area 38 minutes later. The first eight minutes, it’s sitting there waiting to be processed and we put that in red because that’s not adding any value to the process; it’s just time that’s elapsing. Then maybe they load up a software program, it takes four minutes to load up and get logged in and get to the screen I want, and then I’m looking over the paperwork and I’m looking for typos and I print out the file and I go get from the printer and then fill out my piece of the paperwork but it’s not adding value to the customers; it’s just the internal paperwork things that I have to fill out. I’m going to put that as yellow as it’s time that we’re spending on this that’s probably not value-added; maybe necessarily for our own internal record-keeping. Then I get down here and I actually review the changes that came through this design and I actually make a decision and submit it to the next process. I’m going to say that that is value-added time – that’s what the process was set up to do.

When I look at that time, I find there’s only really 10 minutes of that time that’s valuable whereas the total time, once I started looking at this document, it took me 30 minutes to complete it and it waited eight minutes. So it waited eight minutes, then I took 30 minutes to do this, but only the last 10 minutes was actually considered valuable. That’s how we get this down here – 38 minutes of total wait time throughout the whole thing, 30 minutes of that time was cycle time, and only 10 minutes of that would be considered value-added time. If you can get to that level of detail, then you can break these out, but like I said, that’s not the first thing you might have that break out of because to figure this stuff out takes some time and observations.

FS: That could be like a second go around.

B: Yeah, I would say that’s usually the second or third go around before you get into that type of detail but I just want to highlight that sometimes you’ll see these types of things, or the numbers below the line here, as the value-added time so if you see two numbers there, just know that it could be cycle time versus value-added time. It’s technically supposed to be this 10 minutes listed there, but a lot of times, to get to that detail takes time. So I just want to make sure you know what that number represents on the map.

That makes sense in terms of how we look at this whole time? so remember, this lead type is what the customer feels. They have no idea of what’s going on in here most of the time, unless they’re directly involved in that. All they see is it took 40 minutes to get through that process and the series of processes it takes, it adds up, and all I see is I put a request in and then, from a later amount of time, I got what I wanted. The idea that it should only initially take as much as the value-added time takes to go through each of those steps in a perfect world. So if it only takes 10 minutes to get there, the total lead time it should also be 10 minutes. That would be a perfect world.

FS: How would you do if – I’m thinking about 6 am – that’s scenario – she has a process. Really, to get to the value involves feedback from an external place that has really crazy non-value-added time. Would you build that into the flow or would you have like a pre and post flow or how would you do that?

B: Yeah, you can have that spiked out or you could probably have an extra box and call that a supplier or a third party or something like that and try to capture metrics around how long does it take to get a response, how many are waiting right now for that. So to treat it like a process step even though you don’t have control over that, but then you can at least highlight is that the big bottleneck in the whole system or is it something that, yeah, it takes a while, but we end up running into bigger problems later anyway so fixing that outside supplier doesn’t actually speed up our whole system; there’s a bigger bottleneck somewhere else. And then there’s things you can do to work around that and just really partnering with that organization and finding out how they’re doing their work. The same internal problems – is there’s batching going on, there’s misaligned resources, there’s a lot of non-value-added steps that they’re doing.

FS: I’ve done the steps on the other side of the world, and if it takes them that long, they’ve got a lot of non-value added steps.

B: Right. Usually, there’s inefficiency. Each group is trying to optimize their own work and it usually is at the expense of the turnaround time for someone else. Suboptimizing is what we call it. I’m making my job easier, but I’m holding up everybody else in the process. That happens a lot, and so the value stream map is intended to expose those issues and say you can’t do all 50 at once at the end of your day. You have to sprinkle those throughout the day so that we’re not waiting a full day to get a response back. And then you have to work together to help them understand why that’s important to the overall customer satisfaction.

That’s one of the big things with Lean that gets people a little confused is that sometimes the request is I need you to be inefficient so that the system can run efficiently and that’s counterintuitive for a lot of people around Lean – “But that makes my job harder.” Yes, but we’re not trying to make your job simple at the expense of everybody else; we’re trying to make the job the best for the customer or whoever is paying. That’s a little bit of the trickiness for people all around Lean. You can’t have every process be efficient and have the system run efficiently; it doesn’t work that way. Actually, each process has to run a little inefficiently to make the system run efficiently. Any questions on that before I go on?

MS: I can follow how everything gets up in the value stream itself on the bottom. If one were to be working on a process with the team, say with checking patients in, how much time it takes – the patient walks up to the front desk, they check in, that’s like value-added time, and then they stood in the waiting room, that’s non-value-added time, and then they get called back sort of thing. Is it okay to just keep it super simple and, instead of, just going back to that diagram, basically just…

B: I might even have like a waiting room.

MS: Yeah, a waiting room and so forth. Basically, all of the non-value-added time goes on the top and the value-added time goes on the bottom and if you’re not – going back into the slide 5 or 6 – the gaps are the hard part.

B: This is where I’m looking for opportunities – 15 days versus seven minutes, that’s a huge gap. 10 days and four minutes, that’s a huge gap. Some of them might be 35 minutes to 20 minutes; that’s not terrible. So that’s where the opportunity is, is those huge gaps between the lead time and the actual process. Or you can just look it straight up and say I’m just going to take the longest lead time at the top because that’s what the customer feels. Let’s just go tackle why does it take 30 days from when it shows up in that process to when it gets done. But the other way to look at it is maybe it’s 20 days of value-added work, then that’s not as bad of a problem as another one that had 10 days and only 10 minutes of value-added. That gap, as a percentage, is actually larger so maybe I’d want to start with that one even though it’s not the total longest one because I usually take 10 days out of that one but the other one might be tougher. So you’re looking at the gaps between the two but then also looking at the overall number and using that to prioritize.

These are going to be estimates and they’re going to be averages and they’re going to the best guess at that. The typical situation, sometimes we don’t have that. We’ll go out and actually try to count and measure what’s going on right now and hope that that’s reflective, but we’d like to have a little more history to say that 10 days sounds about right and that’s typical. We don’t want to take some weird situation going on right now after a big hurricane comes through and then we’re getting our inventory numbers from that day that aren’t really representative of a typical situation. So we want some average times put in ranges of values – 8 to 12 days because it’s not going to be exactly 10 days. Again, the idea is to point us in the right direction so we can deep dive into that one area as a follow-on to the mapping exercise.

FS: So your five days in first slide – I want to make sure I get that right because I think that was the spot I was confused – so your five days is your wait time between receiving and knowing, plus the two, in this case, five minutes, so plus the two minutes?

B: Yeah. So this number includes this number.

FS: Got it, so you only have to add up the top line.

B: Yeah, and that’s why they make it easy. So when you add the top, you don’t have to add the bottom to it later.

FS: Okay, got it. That’s helpful, thank you.

B: The benefits of a value stream map are it allows you look horizontally across an organization or a company. The traditional model is we are set up in our work structures and hierarchies to be vertical silos – we have a department that we work for and our manager drives a lot of what we work on and we try to do our job the best we can and we hope that were aligned with what the customer needs. But what happens is we end up suboptimizing our work and making our jobs more efficient, but that can cause problems for the horizontal perspective across the value stream. Across those silos, we run into problems because now everyone is doing their own thing to make their job easier and the customer loses in those situations because no one is responsible for making sure the customer experience is efficient throughout the whole system. So it’s the view that the customer has of the process; not how you view your own part of the process.

When we get everybody together and they start putting these numbers in there, it’s eye-opening for everyone to see how long… Usually, the surprise is how long it takes between processes as a first pass through. That’s usually the biggest opportunities – why is it three days, two days, four hours, one hour between these processes? how can we cut that down because that’s the time the customer’s waiting? They don’t know that it’s sitting on a shelf or it’s waiting in a queue somewhere or in someone’s inbox waiting to be processed; they just know they’re waiting. We’ll highlight areas where things get hung up and the flow stops and the idea is we want to create flow.

That’s one of the principles around Lean is once I start working on something, I want it to move through my process. Even if it goes slowly, I want it to keep moving forward and don’t let it stop. Once I let it stop, it can sit there an infinitely long amount of time. It’s better for us to pick something up and finish it than to pick it up, partially work on it, and then set it out and do something else or process part of what the first patient needs and then send them off to the side and do something else when they’re waiting. Let’s just get them all the way through the system as fast as we can.

FS: One of the terminologies I used at a health system place I was at was – because it was horrible – you do something and they put a next step and then you come back a month later, it was just super horrible. And so I started calling it “do and drop,” so they do it and they drop it, they do and they drop it. That terminology, if they couldn’t get the concept of flow but they could get the language about how the office flows. So that was just a helpful term that helped me to highlight for people what they’re doing.

B: That’s good.

MS: Sometimes it’s hard to not do a drop, though, say with a referral, an external referral to specialty care. You start the referral process, you reach out, you wait for some kind of message back from the external reference or center like that, and then you pick it up again once you get a message back from them, and then you call the customer; you can’t call the customer the client. And so it’s a lot of doing and dropping and, sometimes, there’s a team working on that one referral so it’s kind of hard. I can imagine that BBIS has a lot of those sorts of things where there’s a team of people working on one ticket or something.

FS: With us, it’s more that, again, dropping and waiting for external. Well, not external; external but BBIS. In her world, it’s waiting for people outside the BBIS and then waiting for people outside CCC. I’m really curious to see yours because I think it’s going to be like half an hour processing, 90 days of waiting.

FS: Yeah. I’m actually sitting here thinking about a conversation I had with Sarah about looking at the timelines with the external payers. But this is making me actually look at, yes, there’s the process with the payers, but there’s also the process before we even get to the payers and there’s waiting within that as well, so it’s…

FS: I think there’s multiple opportunities.

B: This will help you highlight those areas and decide where do we start.

FS: I think that could be a tool, too, that would help internal, definitely, but I’m not opposed to showing that to the payers too, especially if we actually get our stuff looking better and then be like, “Look at this. Here’s our part, here’s your part.” Because I think it could, like you said, get that common understanding of how the process looks from our standpoint.

B: And that’s, again, the whole goal of value stream mapping is networking with your partners, your suppliers, internal departments. Getting everybody together and saying we’re all part of a big system. Let’s meet each other and talk to each other and find out what each other does and then look at the whole system and say here is where we’re having trouble. It’s not about you’re doing it wrong; it’s just let’s think of a way to make it easier for our customers who are our ultimate judges about how we’re doing. Let’s make the process easier for them and let’s take away the reasons why you have to do your work the way that you do and can we come up with improvement ideas and make this more streamlined. But often, people, this is the first time they’ll see the whole process and they’ve met people from their other departments that they’ve never met before.

I often say some of the value, even if you did nothing after this map, you just made the map and walked away, there’s value there with the networking and the communications of, “I’m having the same thing come up. I’m going to call so-and-so from that event and find out what they want me to do with this because I know they were complaining sometimes that we would send incomplete information and that caused all kinds of problems for them. So before I finish this, I’m going to give them a call and look.” That type of stuff happens just organically after these types of events. And then they see the whole thing and they start thinking differently about flow and the customer experience and that, naturally, would give some improvement just right there – “Here comes one of those orders. I need to process that and get it done and out the door. Even it takes me longer to do it one at a time as it comes in, I know I’m keeping the ball moving, I’m keeping the flow going.” Naturally, you’ll get some gains if nothing officially gets approved. But obviously, we want to actually go and make those improvements.

So it helps reduce the suboptimizing or highlight when suboptimizing is going on that we can talk about it explain why it’s not good to do that and what the ramifications of doing that are to the whole system. The team building I just talked about, communication improves because now we’ve got everybody lined up into the process. One of the often outcomes that we see that works well is, going forward, we’re not going to work in silos. We are going to consolidate together and co-locate each other into a smaller work area so we can keep that communication going. So it’s not going to get handed off to all the finance people in one area and all the nurses over here and the physicians over here and everybody working in their own groups, let’s look at the value stream that we’re looking at and let’s get everybody from different departments together in the same area. That’s often some of the ways that we break up the silos is to physically break up the silos. Your reporting structure can stay the same, but you don’t have… You have somebody who’s looking at the flow, the whole flow of the whole system and saying can we make sure that that’s not breaking down.

Let’s look at a video. This is an example of one that was done, actually, at the State of Washington, I think it was the department of… They’ll explain the name. DHSH I think is the name of it.


B: You can do a half a day and let’s say we do it in that time. That went well, that was worth the time. Let’s do another half day later. At least it’s better than the small meetings infrequently that drags out because you spend a lot of that meeting next week trying to remember where you left off and it’s different people that show up and it’s very unproductive. It’s hard to break out that time, but once you can do it, you can make a lot of progress.

FS: I know a coworker of mine, an acquaintance of mine who’s been doing Lean. They only have maybe two or three kaizen events a year and they’re a full Lean organization. They make it work in a hospital setting but not very often; it’s more for really big overhauls.

B: It’s treated like a vacation, basically. That person is gone on vacation and so how would you normally backfill on to that situation. And that’s the intent that they’re not supposed to be available because it supposed to be dedicated to this event. When you think about it in that term, you start talking about what if they actually are gone for an extended period, how would we normally handle this and that’s the discussion. If it’s hard if you’re trying to do it within your department, that’s trickier.

FS: That’s tricky because you can’t all take a vacation; it’s more for the cost.

B: Yeah, so that those are like how do you maybe in smaller pieces.

FS: I think, too, you could even, potentially, do half days or something and people can deal with fires. It won’t give you the same impact, but again, it’s better than one hour a week because, like you said, I bet you 50% of that is ramp-up time and 50% is value.

B: Yeah, you spend time getting set up on the meeting, now you lose 15, 20 minutes. This is unproductive.

FS: I’ve been able to do more like I’ve tried to at least do 90 to 120 minute periods when working on this type of stuff in the past because I found an hour, you lose too much, but with that extra 30 minutes or 60 minutes, those really help. That’s what I do a lot of at work. And to do more than one meeting a week, not one meeting every week, so two or three times a week when you really make progress. That’s helped.

B: And it’s blocking them off in advance to have that on the calendar already. It’s hard to schedule the next one after that current meeting because then you’re a week or two out before you can find some time when everybody is available again and it just makes it difficult. One of the first things I’ll do is establish some kind of a cadence around how we’re going to be talking. So the more you can do in a set amount of time that’s more than an hour, the better. But yeah, I can see where just jumping into a week-long event would be a shock to the system for some organizations.

This is another example of some success stories. This is Woodfold manufacturing. I think they’re in the region; I don’t know exactly where they’re at. They’re part of another Lean Excellence group in Portland, so I think they’re nearby. They were able to reduce VOC emissions by 1000 pounds per year and move out a lot of PVC waste through some value stream mapping activities. Sometimes time is the goal, other times, it’s actually just improving the metrics, and then you can use this for a lot of the environmental stuff, which is real important topic in my mind to show that these things can help with environmental footprint and environmental impacts of an organization as well. I don’t know what you guys have for waste training in your process, but the same concepts can be applied to those types of things as well and that could be a lot of money going out the door of we bought the item and then we end up throwing it away. And even if we got to get it recycled, it’s still not what we paid for it originally. There’s a whole booklet series from the EPA around Lean in the environment and they have some Lean in government type of things. There’s quite a bit of case studies now with Lean in healthcare. It’s growing, probably the last 10 or 15 years, it’s really been picking up pace, so there’s some good resources out there you can dig up.

Here’s another one, Baxter International Healthcare. They tried to reduce their environmental metrics by, even though the company was doubling in size and revenue, but they wanted to keep their waste generation down to their 96 levels. They ended up doing a value stream map and they identified 96 opportunities and then, if implemented, they would save $17,000 and 170,000 gallons of water a day through that. I didn’t find actual, what they actually ended up doing, but this is just an example out of there.

So the idea of the value stream map won’t directly lead to savings; it’s developing a plan that will lead to savings and efficiencies and customer satisfaction. That’s one of the key best practices is to make sure that you have a plan afterwards. In the video, they mentioned you’re not just signing up for the event; you have to sign up for the 90-day follow on activity that goes along with that. That’s a challenge because now people are gone for a week from their job, they come back the next week and they’re backlogged with stuff that they didn’t get done because they were at this event, and they also bring with them some action items that they got assigned from that event. And so sometimes that becomes a real challenge, that they never get caught back up for a couple of weeks and then they’ve lost the momentum and the excitement of the event, and then those things never got completed.

FS: How often do you see people doing events with that best practice versus doing it more spread out?

B: It seems more common to do spread out now. That has been the traditional model and a lot of people just have fought that. At the smaller sites I’ve worked at, they really fight against doing a full week. It just has worked that way. The story of the whole week, actually, was not the model like Toyota used when they started off. They would do it in smaller batches of time, like four hours here, a half a day here, ongoing improvements throughout. What went to the 5-day/4-day model was really when their consultants started going working with companies and there was travel involved and so they figured out a way to condense it down. There’s a lot of value to doing it that way because it’s so intense and it’s so rapid that, within a week, you have a lot of activity, but those who also get more into the kaizen events, which is a different workshop I’ll talk about in a minute, those are where it’s more working session where this is more planning session.

The deliverable of a value stream map is a map of current state, a map of the future state, and an action plan and you have to execute the action plan basically, and that’s where things go wrong. Usually, we try to make the action plan follow on smaller events, kaizen events or short, 1-day, 2-day type of events where we’re going to go get everybody together and we’re going to knock this out versus trying to do one hour a meeting spread out over time. It just takes too long.

MS: Do you recommend doing a time study before getting the group together? for instance, if you want to see the cycle time for a patient getting through an appointment or something like that, to have somebody with a stopwatch and get an average time so that you’re not trying to either guess this sort of thing; you have some data in front of you to develop the current state.

B: Yeah, there’s prep work that goes into it. I’ll talk about that in the process piece of this, but that’s a good point. We definitely want to get as much actual real data as much as we can prior to activity so it’s just filling in the data and not having to go through how to go get that data. Sometimes we’ll just have people bring some of the information, like yield and financials and stuff, but other things, we have to go time because that data is not available. We’re going to go start collecting that data. Sometimes, we’ll send – maybe you’ve seen it at certain lines like at TSA or something, they’ll give you a card and say, “hand this to the lady in the front.” That’s a timing study to see how long it takes to get through that process line. Those types of things will be embedded, hopefully, weeks in advance to that event.

You can also add in these other elements. Like I said, whatever it’s important to your organization, you can add that into the data box. This one, they were looking at the water usage and so they just added that as another piece of the data box. That’s one thing you can do is to put how much is used here, where that could be energy or that could be some raw material that’s getting consumed that really expensive. It could be medical supplies and the cost there. Whatever you think is important can get added into the data box to highlight that. And then they just put it down here, in addition to the time, they put in the total usage of that item or material.

The other way you could do that is actually replace the timeline and just put in the actual – this is water again – how much water goes into the process and how much gets consumed and then the gap would be how much is lost in the system somewhere or wasted. So that could highlight, wait, we have 150 gallons going in and 60,000 gallons going out. We’re losing 90,000 gallons there; something’s wrong. Maybe that’s a kaizen event to dig into why that’s happening. It’s another way of modifying the map to make it reflect what you’re trying to accomplish; maybe time isn’t the most important thing. They’re just replacing it in this example, but traditionally, it’s going to be the timeline, it’s going to be this bottom one. Those are some other tweaks to the process map and the value stream map you can put in there.

Again, the goal is to really focus around the customer response time. Often, people won’t see it because each individual process is focused on their work and no one is looking between the processes and where the handoffs cursor. Every time there’s a handoff, to me, a little alarm goes off in my head like there’s probably some inefficiencies and waste in how that’s being handed off. That’s the place we need to start and, oftentimes, when we think about Lean, people get the perception that we’re going to come in and we’re going to make people work harder and faster and give them more work to do and not really try to improve the work.

What we want to do first, and where we see a lot of the opportunities, is connecting the processes together more smoothly and cleanly. When one process gets done, it goes and it connects into the next process and gets continued on so we’re connecting the dots between the whole processes and connect them together. That’s usually the first thing we do to cut out the waiting in between the processes. There’s a lot of work that will be done first just to get that cleaned up. Then once we get all the processes aligned and connected, then we can deep dive down and look at why does it take 10 minutes? can I get that down to eight minutes or five minutes or two minutes and what are the wastes there. Usually, we’re not going after I want to take that five-minute process down to two minutes through automation. Because, in a process, it takes 10 days, the customer’s not going to notice when you saved three minutes off that one process. They want to know why it takes 10 days, they want to see days cut out and that’s usually the handoffs where the opportunity to cut that out is showing up. Often, jobs can take up 99% of the time. The total time, 99% of it or more can often be waste of time, just sitting there waiting or steps being done that aren’t adding value to the process so a task that takes an hour can often take a week to get back to the customer on. That’s a similar example about 99% waste in terms of time. So it’s not that I’m wasting 99% of my hour, it’s I’m wasting 99% of my week. That’ll be a lot of initial opportunity and so by the time we get into stuff of automating and improving the value-added part of the process, that’s down the line a little ways.

Here is a typical before. Once we do start to dig into the work a little bit, for example, this 480 something days, this would be a whole day’s worth work and time. Let’s say takes 24 hours or one work cycle, 480 minutes of work, which is about eight hours. How that eight hours of time that it takes to get through your process, most of that time in the red is waiting or non-value-added work and you can see that there’s a little bit of green where some value-added work is taking place. The goal is we want to cut out all that wasted time and get it down to a lot less than that, which will condense our total amount of time. So what took a 21-day response, we can cut that down to a 30-minute response or 24 minutes of response time and most of that time being value-added-time being applied to it. So it’s taking out the red…

FS: Yeah, you’re right because most people, it’s human nature to focus on that green first.

B: Yeah, and they say how do I get that from two minutes down to one minute? that’s not the biggest opportunity to start with. That’s the goal is let’s take the waste out of the process first so we free people up to do the work that they really want to do. A lot of people, the green is what they really like doing – it’s the value that they are providing, they’re helping people, they’re helping the mission of the organization, they’re doing the work they got paid for and all of this other stuff is frustration and inefficiency and delays and confusion and difficulties that are not fun. And so if we can eliminate those and get people to spend more of their time providing value and then being able to provide more and more value to handle more work because we’ve taken away the inefficient work, that’s where we see the initial gains. So the first step is take the waste that people are having to do, then later, we can look at cutting that 24 minutes down to something less. Unless you’ve got where a big chunk of this time is green, that’s time that’s value-added but there’s opportunity to take the time out, but usually, this is more of the example I see.

FS: So you could have the waste in the connections between the times or you could have the waste within the cycle?

B: Yeah. Usually, the first one is going to be handoffs between the processes, the second would be waste within the process, and then third, finally, we might look at the value-added and say, actually, within that cycle time, there’s opportunities to take waste out of there. Those are little easier to tackle than trying to… Usually, a lot of improving the green gets into how do we automate that or make it… And that causes investment and there’s time to develop the system and that just delays things, so it’s actually slower to do those improvements as well. Or I need a new machine or new equipment and how to spend capital to get that. So we can do a lot of that other stuff quickly as well.

Here’s just another example of where they’ve put in kind of a before. In the video, they talked about the current state map and that’s the first thing you create – what’s going on today – and that needs to be reflective of actual what’s happening; not what I think is happening or what the procedure says we’re supposed to do. This is supposed to be reality, what’s going on today. And so we have data and we have numbers and this is just what the current issue is. And then we’ll later come in and do another value stream map, which would be the future state map so I’ll talk about that. A lot of the things that get into that is I’m waiting for something to go out and I might start working on something else and keep productive and, at some point, the trick is where do you draw the line and say I’m not going to start anything new. I’m going to go back and micromanage these seven items or ten items or five items or three items and I’m going to stay focused and make sure that those get done and prod on those instead of those being passive and waiting for them to respond. The loopback is say I’ve hit my maximum, I’m not going to have more than five of these cases going on at once and I’m going to loop back to number one and just hammering away until I free one up and then I can bring on a new case. When I get that one completed, I’ll bring in another one and keep managing another four or five. But when that number grows to 20, 30, it’s really hard to manage those in-process things. You start just tacking on more and then you’ve got to spend time prioritizing your list – where did I leave off with that one? where is this one at again? so it’s even internally keeping your own – it’s called working process – where you’re keeping a limit on that and starting to say I’m not going to add on more to my plate. I’m going to stay focused on just these so I make sure that they get done and completed. That’s something you can do to help yourself a little bit, but eventually, you want to get to the suppliers too so they are…

FS: Yeah, on time. It just suddenly hit me because the one that we were talking about this week at least has some Lean rattling around the organization. And actually, it was interesting that the project I was telling you about, the person that I’m working with on that project actually happens to be in a very high position. They shall not be named, the organization. So I actually may have the opportunity to ask that person their impression of Lean at their organization.

FS: It would be interesting to hear.

FS: Yeah, actually, I know. That’ll be good. He’s a really good friend, which I don’t mention his name only because I don’t… He’s at a higher level than there, but I can at least find out some philosophical sort of things.

B: And when a company says, “We did Lean,” that can mean 103 different ways of what that interpretation of that means. It could be one pocket of success over here is where we do it and we don’t do it anywhere else or, actually, it’s part of our culture. Yeah, I get all kinds of variety, so usually, when people say, “We’ve got a Lean program,” okay, explain exactly what you mean by that. How serious are you guys with that?

FS: The good thing is, actually, I’m going to ask this guy if he thinks they have one and if they do, what it means. He’s at a level that he should know, but now I’m curious. Now I’ve got a couple of little curiosities I have.

B: In one of the other topics that we go through in the Lean overview, we talk about these eight forms of waste. These are the things you want to look for in your process – where you see transportation, moving the things or items around. Here’s this document, how do we get an answer about this? that needs to go to that department. Let me forward the email to them. No, we’re not the right people. You need to forward it over to this group. That’s all transportation. Nothing is improving with item until it actually gets to somebody who can do something with it. So transportation can be email chains going around, it could be phone calls going around, and it could be actually physically moving items or people. All of that is time that value is not being created or improved; it’s just taking up time from a distance standpoint, so any of those transportation opportunities.

Inventory is where you see a backlog of things needing to be processed that aren’t being done. That’s a good place to find opportunities. Where you see inventory, it’s usually because something is stuck in the process. There’s a video of that our Lean Portland group’s going to be showing called The Goal, which is a book written around inventory management and this concept of theory of constraints. It’s a free movie that they made, a business video movie out of and it’s like a 45-minute video. It’s really good about using inventory as an indicator of where to find your problems.

FS: And it’s at Province, right?

B: At Province, yeah, at one of their feeders. They have a feeder there. I’ll send out a link to where that data is because that’s a really good way to learn this concept quickly and in an entertaining way.

Motion would be movement within my own workspace, so I’m reaching for stuff. Even on my computer, I’m searching for documents, I’m looking for files, I’m loading up programs, I’m re-formatting my desktop, my monitors to match things up. All of that is waste that’s taking time for me to get to where I need to go. So it’s think about the wasted motion inside your workspace where transportation would be more movement outside of your workspace.

Waiting, obviously, is anytime you’re waiting for an approval, waiting for a decision, waiting for a supplier to get back to you. That’s all time that’s holding up the customer from what they want to get done. Over processing would be you’re doing value-added work but, at some point in that process, you switch from value-added to overdoing it. So, yes, they want you to provide a chart, but it doesn’t need to have fancy graphics and animation in it. So giving them the chart is what they want and the value; all the extra stuff is non-value-added. They didn’t want that or ask for that but you spent time doing it. It’s the opposite of providing poor quality; it’s excessively good quality. It’s above and beyond what they actually want or are willing to pay for.

FS: That one’s a really good one. I think that’s a big opportunity.

B: Yeah. Usually, at some point, it gets overdone and, usually, when we go in and have people go talk to your customers and say, “Here’s what I’ve been providing you every day or every week or every month. Do you utilize all of this information?” Usually, the answer is from, “I don’t even open your email,” to, “Yeah, most of this I use except for those last three tabs I never look at.” And then you could say, “Cool, I can take out those last three tabs because that’s wasting 15 minutes of my time that you don’t even look at.” So just talking to your customers can get some of those identified. We did that as a finance group and that was really disheartening a little bit and empowering to the team because they realized that half the stuff they were doing were automated reports set up years ago for a different manager and nobody is even using it and they’re spending hours doing these reports for nobody. So, cool, I can stop doing it and, all of a sudden, they are freed up to do more work. Or if they said, “You’re providing me some of this stuff, but I can get half the other stuff from somewhere else and I’m already getting it in this other report, so just only provide me tab one of this information or just this level of detail and I don’t need the rest of it.” So the report’s valuable but not everything in there.

FS: Does something fall into that if you’re doing sort of the same job for multiple organizations, just in a different format would fall into that and there’s got to be a way to…?

B: Yeah, you could spend time saying can I provide all of you the same information in one report? and it’s okay if it’s extra information, but as long as you’re not wasting… As long as somebody’s getting value out of it, that’s okay. It’s where you’re spending time doing it and nobody is getting value out of that extra time. You could do one report that addresses everybody’s needs and it saves you time, but also, it gives everybody else what they want. So it’s okay if you’re giving them extra information as long as you’re not wasting time in giving that information. At least somebody is getting some value out of it, that would be okay. You have to work through some standardization of what that might look like.

FS: Right. I guess that’s my question is I do three different reports for three different companies in different formats and it’s all the same information. So they’re getting value out of it, but it takes me a lot of time to do the same information in three places.

FS: They may or may not be getting value out of it.

FS: Yeah, but they’re asking for it, so I guess maybe. So does that fall under the same place on my end but not on their end?

B: I guess it’s okay if you’re spending extra time but you’re giving them good value, that’s okay. If you’re saying that could you do it… I would think an opportunity would be if you have to provide it in three different formats, could you get one format that you could easily run and send it out and it meets all their needs? There might be some opportunities to do that, but if they each need it in a certain format and it takes you more time to do it but they value that, then that’s okay even if it seems inefficient.

FS: That falls into spending more time on something because it has value?

B: Yeah. As long as the customer says, “I need it in this format because I help load it into our eHR system,” that’s okay. It’s I take your report and I have to go format it myself and you could easily have provided it in that direct format for them, then that’s a waste for them to do. Oftentimes, we see that we’re not saving any time but we’re saving our customers or our payers time and there’s value in that even though it directly doesn’t show up on our value map. We’re increasing our value to them at the same cost of whatever. There’s customer satisfaction gains that are hard to quantify, but definitely you want to do a lot of those. I’ve seen where it actually takes more time on our end to give the customer more value and, in the long run, that’s going to be good for us because they’re going to like that and be happy about it. So that’s okay too as long as there’s value be provided to the customer.

FS: But I like your example, the finance. It may be value-added or they may be okay with something else.

FS: Right.

FS: So if they would be okay with something else, then it would be over processing but you don’t have anybody asking for it.

B: I’ve had one group just stop doing a report and see if anyone calls, and nobody called. So they were like, “Okay, we get the message.”

FS: I’ve tried that one.

B: And if they call, then okay, there’s value here. Especially if you don’t know who all the customers are. It depends, you don’t want to try it on some critical HR report that is getting published, and you don’t want to try to it on some important financial report. Something noncritical, you can try something.

FS: The other flavor of that, it might be a little less trouble, is when you send it out, you can add at the bottom your email and you say, “I’m checking my process to see who needs this. Please let me know if you want to continue receiving it,” and then if nobody gets back to you, you’ve got a clear slate to stop doing it.

B: Yeah, that’s a good way to try it too. I like that. Overproduction would be when you do more in advance of what the customer wants, so you’re doing more prediction, forecasting, anticipation of what they want. It could be a report you say I think my customer wants this report in the first week so I’m going to do that. But, oftentimes, it’s ahead of when they actually need it. The example I gave is, at the end of the month, I issue a weekly report but my customer is on vacation and they come back a week later and they say, “Actually, can you add in this week’s? I pushed my meeting a week because I was gone. Can you rerun that report with the latest information from this week?” This led to rework and over processing because it would’ve been better if I had waited until they actually needed the report. And so getting connected in with your customers and saying, “It’s available. I can do it right now, but do you need it right now? I want to do it once and I want to do it right, and I so I don’t want to go back and have to do it over again.” So just getting connected in with when your customer actually needs what they want; not some schedule or some long-term plan that says send it to me on the first of the week.

Go validate and say, “I’ve got a lot of things going on. Do you actually need it right now or can I get it to you Tuesday? that would actually be better and it’s more timely for you.” So just being connected in with your customers. And on the manufacturing side, there’s a lot of manufacturers will build to a forecast and they’ll rush around and work overtime to make product for a schedule and the customer is like, “We’ve got too many and we’re not selling as fast as we wanted,” and actually, now all that stuff is sitting in inventory and incurring money. That’s money I could have left in the bank and I didn’t have to pay all that extra time and labor and overtime to do that. On the parts and product thing, it can be very expensive when you build to an anticipated quantity; not an actual demand from the customer. Usually, they’ll set up a system that is forecasting the materials, the raw materials, but waiting until they see actual orders before they actually process them through. That’s when you have overproduction, it ends up creating other wastes in the process. And if you have defects and errors, that creates rework and extra activity and all of the time spent not doing it right the first time is waste.

And then finally, there’s another one that is around skills. Are we utilizing the people that we have to their fullest extent? are we maximizing their abilities? are we getting information out of them about ideas and improvements? are we just saying stay busy and stay focused, keep your head down and just do your work? maybe if we looked and understood them and knew what skill set they had, we could move them into an area where they can excel. So just not utilizing people to the fullest potential they have, that’s another form of waste.

These are things we want to look for in the process and after you do the current state map, you’re going to hear those things pop out and we’re going to capture those and highlight those with these first symbols and we’re going to come up with a plan. Those would be listed on the current state map. If they do the current state, then you put these burst symbols on there like too much inventory, scheduling problems with staff, customer complaints, rework loop, poor yield. All you’re doing is listing the problem or the opportunity there.

And then we come back and we talk about what can we do to eliminate those opportunities and fix them and then what would that new process look like and this would be the aftereffect or the future state map. And so you’d say we’re going to put in a kanban system and have it pull from process to process and that’s how we’re going to track these two processes together. And here we’ve got a lot of waste in poundage, so let’s try to address why we’re losing so much of the value, like some raw material, in that process. Here we have some delivery issues going on there and, here, we’ve got, physically, we’re sending information out and we want to automate that or make that electronic to speed that up. So you highlight what the improvements will look like in the future state.

Usually, we put in another step before that that’s called an ideal state and that’s intended to break people out of their current line of thinking because a lot of people will get very limited in their future state because they know they’re constrained by today’s current process. They say, “We can’t change that. Our system won’t allow that.” We’ve got to break people out of that mindset first because then you just get incremental improvements to future state. Often, we’ll go and say how would you run this process, based on what we’ve talked about so far and the problems we have in the current state? if you were to start over from scratch, what would that look like? If you had all the money and materials and machines and equipment you could have, how would you do this process starting over? you’re starting in a garage and it’s all the space you have, how would you set this process up? and then let’s come back to reality and say we’re not, obviously, going to be able to do that, but with that line of thinking, how can I work backwards? how can I move towards that future vision or ideal situation instead of just staying limited to say how do I tweak the current situation? That breaks people out of the mindset of, “I can’t do that. We can’t go that far,” and they just get really locked in.

Some people ask about how process maps line up with value stream maps. They are a little different. The idea with the value stream map, again, is the whole system and there’s pieces around there with the data that gets added to that. Whereas in most process maps, it’s just a series of steps and you’re really looking at the routing of those steps. You might put in little decision points that say if it’s this, go here and of that, go there. You might put in the rework loop like you were talking about. The loop that says it now goes rework and then it goes over here and back up to here or back over here. You put in all the inefficiencies at the detail level, but you would only go down to that level after you’ve identified that this major box in the value stream was an opportunity area we want to focus in on then we deep dive into the process map of that step, which has many different detail activities going on.

Sometimes I’ve seen the maps that just get at this level for the whole thing and then make a wall of the value stream map across the whole. They’ll fill in the wall on both sides with steps. To me, it’s pretty overwhelming unless you have some intent that that’s going to be useful to the whole team.

MS: Can you go through a value stream map and you’ve identified your current state and you have times and everything, and you have all of the data and your object is to change that ratio between non-value-added time and value-added time etc. and you get a better ratio, you get a better number. When do you know when it’s good enough?

B: It’s never good enough.

MS: Okay, but good enough for the amount of time that it took you to go through the whole process to get to an improvement. It’s like what is the ROI on another improvement cycle etc.

B: Yeah, that’s a good question. It depends on how bad things are. Go back to the customer and that’s going to be the indicator at some point. They’re going to say, “Wow, this is so much better. This is great. We’re really happy now,” or, “You’re making progress. I’m still not happy with how things are going.” At some point, when you get the customers off your back a little bit, then you can feel like you got enough improvement for now and then just know that what we’re really trying to build is a culture around improvement so this isn’t a one time a year event but we build in ongoing improvements and the value stream map, every year, is really to check in to see are we still on the right track? Are we still focused on the right areas? but this shouldn’t be a one and done – I did the value stream map. I see that a lot – “We just did a value stream map last year. Why do we have to do another one?” Because you’re trying to prove over time; it’s not a one-time deal. And we don’t just only use the map in a Lean event to do improvements; we want to be doing it ongoing and this is really a chance to regroup and make sure we’re still focused on the right things and we still understand what value the customer wants, just to reevaluate where we’re at.

FS: Wouldn’t it be a good thing to check back that you really are actually at your future state? how we met the future state and are we maintaining it. Just because you met it at one point doesn’t mean that six months down the road, you’re still going to be at that point.

B: That’s right and I’ve had that where we made a lot of improvements but the metrics have not really gotten that much better as what we thought, and so it allows us to reflect and talk about that and say why aren’t we seeing the inventory levels come down? why aren’t we seeing the lead time get lower? or yeah, we actually have gotten better than what we thought. It’s actually working really well in this part of it. It’s a chance to regroup and do that, but yeah, ultimately, we want to have this ongoing improvement and then this is our opportunity to make sure we’re on the right track. The process map would spin out of the opportunities we identify with this area and that could be a follow-up activity or event with a smaller team that goes off and does that.

Something else. I’ll get to the ideal state here in a second. In your handouts, you’ve got a little exercise there. I’m going to play video and see how this goes. Try to…

FS: What’s VA time in the diagram?

B: What’s that, VA?

FS: Oh, value-added.

B: Value-added time, yeah. This is part of a value stream. Someone is making a pizza. The pizza making is not the value stream; it’s a subset of that. The whole value stream of a pizza delivery shop like a Papa John’s, what would be the full value stream, start to finish?

FS: From the time the order comes in until the time it’s delivered to the customer.

B: Right. All we’re looking at here is a subset of making the pizza and that could be just one box in a value stream or it could be a couple of boxes, depending on how detailed. I’ll show you an example of the full picture.

In your handouts, I’ve got three things here. Let me just go ahead and give you the name of this. The first step in here is going to be the dough prep process or just call it dough. That would go on the very top lines of each of those three boxes. Not all three of them. The first one would be dough, the second one would be sauce, and a third one would be toppings. You might look at this video and say, “I would separate those a little differently,” and so that’s what the second section in here would be an explanation of what is done in those steps if there’s confusion about is that part of it the dough process or the sauce process. Then you’re going to be able to look at it in the cycle time of that. So if you have a little stopwatch on your phone that, when you see them switch to another process, we’re going to try to get an estimate of time and I might have to play it through a second time through to get that. Then I’m going to go back here and we’re going to look at one of the steps and I’m going to try to break out the value-added from the total time and see how much of that time actually looks like value-added time out of the total.

The first time through, you can observe and try to do some timings around what it takes, but a little bit of difficulty is he’s going to explain some stuff as we’re going along and then he’s going to go and work through the process and then, during that time, he’ll stop and explain some things to you, so that’s built into some inefficiencies in this. The idea is just to try and get a feel for where the numbers would go onto this sheet. There’s going to be a couple of points where he switches. He’s going to talk for a little bit, then he’s going to start reaching for dough, and that will be the first start. The second point where I’m going to segment the next process will be when he slides the dough over to put the sauce on. So he’s going over to the sauce station, that would be the second point. And then when he’s done with the sauce and slides it over to start putting the toppings on, that’ll be the third point in the process where the time will switch over. So the time in between those different stages is what we want to try to capture. And this is done one piece at a time, so there’s very little wait time between, but you will see some inventory in the process, so also try to capture, as best as you can, where you see inventory in the process.


B: In timing it, it’s roughly a little over a minute to do the dough prep. As soon as he started reaching for the dough to the time he actually put the dough onto that screen and slid it over, that’s about a minute or so. And then another like 30 seconds to put the sauce on there, and then another minute and a half to get all the toppings put on there. I don’t know if that was clear. So where you draw the line on that is a little vague sometimes, so just clarifying that will be part of the steps. That’s the high level you would break it down into that process. In other value stream maps, the whole assembly of the pizza might be one box. In other value stream maps, it might be broken out into bigger sections. I see, wherever there’s a point where things can sit or get delayed, then that might be a separation point.

Did you see any inventory in the video? where did you see the inventory process?

MS: Where you have all the preset dough clumps ready to go.

B: Yeah. So going into that process, there’s those trays. They had a tray at the bottom on the floor and then he stacked it up against that wall over here. Those could be completed trays, maybe those are full of dough in them, I’m not sure yet. We’d have to go out there and actually look and see what that is, is that completed or done. But even if those are completed, we know that, at any given point, they’re probably bringing out 20 trays of dough with five in each tray, so maybe at the beginning of the day, there’s 100 dough balls sitting out there in the process. That would be we count up all of those and say that’s the inventory going into that process. Basically, what we’re timing is a dough ball arrived in that process, how long before I actually got it through that whole process? the waiting is that it’s sitting waiting to get processed through all of those previous trays in the area. So the question is why did I make so much dough ahead of when I actually need it? could I have been doing something else with my time than making dough balls at that point in the process.

And maybe there’s justified reasons for that, but it’s an opportunity and we want to dig into it and ask those questions. So why are there so many trays in this area at that point? why are they sitting out? Are they losing value as they’re sitting there? Is that at risk of going bad or having to be reworked because it’s sitting out there? And could I have been doing something else more valuable with my time? Maybe there’s a customer backlog and someone is over-making dough balls and they could be over helping the customers, so it’s allocating the workloads to the right time as well. That’s the first inventory and there’s maybe 100 dough balls sitting in that process, so that would be something we would record there.

Then later in the process, do you see some other inventory?

FS: The sauce and the toppings.

B: Yeah. So we have a little bit of a storage of those in the containers. We can go and try to get an estimate of weight or how many containers are full of each of the toppings. In a perfect world, they would be brought in from the fridge and dropped on the pizza in just-in-time, but that’s probably not immediately you can get to that type of point. At some point, we’re going to have the right number of containers out there that keep the ingredients fresh and cycled through but we don’t run out either, so having some kind of system. Maybe it’s a two-bit system, so every time I pull an empty one, I drop it off and someone replenishes it and brings back another one as I’m working down the other bin I’ve got. We just have some system that says I don’t want to have too much of one ingredient sitting out in the open for an extended period of time that’s slower than what I consume it at. Where it sits too long and it gets processed too fast, then they don’t have enough there to keep up. So working out the right amounts for each of those and it looks like certain ingredients have more storage than others, so there is some rhyme or reason to that. Any other inventory you noticed?

MS: There’s inventory from the sloppage.

B: Yeah, all of that little trough of overshot ingredients and cheese sloppily put on there and chicken falling on the ground. It’s not the most efficient way of putting ingredients on a pizza. But you could gather all of that up, sweep it up and count it and say there’s eight pieces of chicken there and those are $.25 apiece, and there’s a pound and a half of cheese and that’s got a cost to it and you can start to quantify those and really try to figure out how much waste is going on and how much is being consumed. That’s an observation you can make on that. That would be something like a scrap rate or a defect rate of the process and that’s something I can put in the data box – how much of the chicken actually doesn’t make it on the pizza. That could be a good metric. Any other inventory you noticed?

FS: There’s the pans that they put the pizza on. There’s tools and the cooking implements.

B: Yeah. Before it goes to the screening, what we saw was him go one-piece flow through the whole process, but that’s not how the process looks like it works with all of this.

FS: Premade crusts.

B: Premade, yeah. So they built up an inventory at this point in the process for some reason. Maybe there is a logical reason behind it – this is a lunch period. I doubt it because he’s filming a video in the middle of it, so they’re not really backlogged it doesn’t seem. So what is all of this doing here is a good question to ask and maybe there’s some reason that says that’s a very long process and we’ve got to keep up with our demand. During the lunch rush, we want to have this many, but I’d really look at this and say you need three trays of 20 each, 15 each in there? do you really need 45 premade dough pizzas ready to go or do we just get bored and start making these ahead of time? because the problem with this is look at what’s happening to the crusts. Some of this may require rework and then, at the end of the day, how long can it sit on the shelf before I have to do something with it or does it have a shelf life – 15 minutes after I’ve made it and then I’ve got to throw it away? it’s at risk and so we have to balance our demand fluctuation, which may be a good reason to have some inventory, with the risk of carrying that much inventory ahead of time. And if that starts to drip over and it has to be fixed or it creates a quality issue with the crust itself.

Maybe it’s a good thing, maybe it’s a bad thing; I don’t know. It’s just questions and we would have to dig into them. Why do we have 20-some crusts premade in this area? that looks like that’s the process is someone is making the dough and they put them on the shelf and then someone grabs off the shelf. That might be okay, but they probably don’t need 20 of them; maybe you need five. And then how do I connect that process to this one? when I get to six, I stop and the person on dough goes and does something else – they take on one of the toppings, they help the flow – and then when they see that this drops down to two, they go back and they start making more crusts. So I have min and max levels that control my inventory and what I do.

That’s the types of thing we start asking questions around and digging in. Why is there so much inventory? is there a purpose for it? inventory is not always bad, but it should be there for a specific reason and be controlled. It’s not just we just make as much as we can because we’re bored and we want to keep people busy because that could actually create a lot of problems. Part of Lean, that’s another counterintuitive thing with Lean is sometimes it’s okay not do anything because you can do more damage and create more problems by being busy and doing work ahead when you need to that might have to be redone or thrown away or tossed or have poor quality because of starting it too early. That gets people a little confused sometimes too. Isn’t the goal to keep everybody working 100% productive all the time and lean would say, no, you need to work at the pace that the customer needs; not just to keep busy.

That was the other inventory and that would be in front of the sauce process. You would have an inventory and you’d list out we have 20 some screens or crusts at that point in the process.

FS: There’s one thing I’m a little confused on. When you’re doing inventory, we’re talking about specific products that go into the end product, but are you also somewhat tracking your customer request volume on the…?

B: You can do that in a data box that says we get this many orders a day, the demand…

FS: Okay, so you would do that in a data box?

B: That would be in a data box, yeah. Good question. So we get this many orders coming in, and it could be different types. You could say we get this many call-in orders, we get this many walk-ins, we get this many such-and-such or between these hours, we get this type of demand and then, during these hours, we get a different type of demand. So any information that’s helpful for the team to see what’s going on. We’ll get, in another workshop called The Advanced Standard Work, we’ll get into the demand and understanding the tack time or how quickly so we need to produce one item every X number of minutes or hours to keep up with the demand that the customer has and then build our process to be lined up to meet that speed. We want to match what customer needs and the rates they need it. Sometimes people will just keep wanting to go faster and then you have to… Your process might be slow and inefficient, but it might be okay because it still is able to keep up with the process and let’s go work somewhere else where we’re actually behind what the customer needs. We want to be smart about where we’re making improvements or where we need to make improvements.

That would be we would capture the times, and we can go back and record it if you want, but for the sake of time, I want to get into a little bit of break down on the value-added in the total cycle time. If you go into the next sheet, I have a little bit of a breakdown, and this is actually a little bit incorrect. I didn’t give you the latest correct version, which is a defect on my part. I counted up 22 screens here and said roughly 100 pounds of toppings, but you could also list us as the number of pizzas sitting in that process. If there was no pizzas waiting to go into the toppings areas, so that could actually be zero pizzas. But they could keep track of the raw materials in the toppings and have a separate one for actual pizzas at that point, so here are 22 pizzas, this is 89 dough balls. That could also be reflected as maybe zero pizzas, but you could also capture that there is some inventory in terms of the material raw materials, the toppings.

This is what I captured from the video, going over it a couple of times. 73 seconds from the time he starts to reach for the dough. I included the time he took the tray off and set it to the side and then went and scooped out the one dough ball that he used and put it in the dustinator. Then the sauce took 25 seconds from the time that the screen was placed down and he shifted it over. So it arrived in front of the screen and the clock started. Then when he slid it out of the sauce area, the clock stopped. And then I had about 100 seconds from the time he starts putting the toppings on to when he picked it up and moved it over into the oven. That would be data we would record on there and that would go down here in the bottom – 73 seconds, 25 seconds, 100 seconds.

What I did also was I broke out and I figured out how much of that time looked like value-added time and I came up with 70 seconds, 10 seconds, and 30 seconds. The rest of that, I felt, was wasted effort and motion that could be an opportunity to reduce it down further. That’s what I recorded in here as well. I also capture that the toppings, I said I don’t know what the number is, but let’s it’s about 2% of the stuff falls through the grate or falls on the floor and basically doesn’t get on the pizza. So we can weight that versus the total amount of inventory we have and come up with a percentage, but I just guessed and said it’s maybe 2%.

That’s what the value stream map section of this would look like. If you look at this diagram, I don’t know if that’s in your handout. Sorry, I didn’t give you that one but this would be the full value stream picture, and we looked at this section of it for this part of the process. There’s a warehousing process and I didn’t even put it in there, and there’s probably an ordering process. I guess it comes up over here. The ticket system goes in by where the dough comes out probably, somewhere in there. I’m just guessing on some of this. We have the oven process, we have the cutting and the boxing of the item, and then we deliver to a customer one piece at a time or one order at a time. Then there’s the supplier process that maybe there’s a two-week turnaround from the supplier to the pizza shop and I’d get some other metrics in the timeline from those other areas and capture data on those as well so this would be the full value stream picture. Does that make sense? and then I actually went and showed where I got those timings from the video.

FS: What is the 360 seconds?

B: That would be the time that I felt that it would be waiting at the sauce. This would be the pizzas were on the rack. So I had 22 pizzas; how long did I think it would take, and maybe this is during lunch rush, when the pizza went onto that rack, by the time it actually got done through that process. You have to do a time count on that and someone will put it on there and say, “I put it onto that rack at 11:02, and at,” that was only six minutes there, it’s probably longer than that. Then, at 11:08, it actually left the rack and went onto the next step.

FS: Because he’s normally not doing it that way.

B: Right. It was a little confusing. I wasn’t sure if I should do it that way or the way I showed it in the video.

MS: And the 73 and 30 seconds, that’s technically value-added time but you felt like 30 seconds of that was really value-added?

B: Yeah. This is how long the process took to cycle time and I looked at this and I want to go back and look at this real quick with you guys.

MS: So current state and future state numbers, essentially? Okay.

B: Yeah. That’s how long it’s taking today and here’s what I potentially think it could take without improving how that work is being done. It’s just saying he’s running that scraper tool over and I’m calling that value-added time, but there might be another tool that just clamps down and does that in a second.

FS: Or maybe he’s over processing – he’s doing three times and he only needed to do it twice.

B: Right. So I’m counting that time, and actually, I did take a little bit out of that no count too, so let’s look at that one process because that’s pretty interesting. I’ll tell you when I think he’s adding value to this process out of these, what was it, 73 seconds I think?

B: I’m starting to count now. No value, no value, no value, no value, no value, no value, there’s value going on, there, value, value, value. Now you’re thinking maybe he’s over processing, so no value. He’s probably overdoing it. Maybe, maybe not; I don’t know. And then he’s adding value here, and putting it on the screen, stretching is value. At some point, I would say overdoing it, no value. No value, no value, got a couple of extra scoops, you don’t need that, so getting that down to five or six. Value, value, no value, maybe value, value. So that’s where I came up with about 30 seconds of that time I thought he was actually making the crust better and doing something to improve the quality of the crust and moving it forward in the process; everything else was like motion around it. So he was scooping up the dustinator, that’s not making the crust better. When he placed it on there again, maybe there was some value. Or maybe we find out you don’t have to do that step, it actually does nothing for the customer.

Even like on the sauce, he’ll scoop that sauce, there’s no value-added being applied yet. It’s only when the sauce hits the crust or the dough does the value start. They just decided to use a ladle, but there’s other ways to get sauce onto the dough that may be more efficient. As we start to break these down, you start to see that even in a fairly efficient process, you can still cut out 25% to 50% of the time when you figure out ways to get the waste out of it.

MS: Earlier, we were about the big value things, like the 360 seconds, like you start with that and then come back and then you work on the 73 and 37 sort of opportunities.

B: Because the employees know that this is coming up in the process and they’re frustrated with the delays. I don’t want to go in and start and attack. It feels like an attack, but it’s nitpicking into their process when they know that there’s bigger problems. So we’ve got to clear out the big problems out of the way first, then they’re going to be more open to, okay, yes, let’s start talking about what I do and make my job a little better and easier. So if you go right to that, then people get frustrated because they’re like, “You’re just making me push that process to let it sit for days at the next step,” or hours or minutes at the next step. So I would clear out this first and I would clear out this issue over here first, then you come back and start looking at the waste in the process. Usually, that’s why I don’t even get into maybe that level the first round too, I just get the cycle time and then, later, we say this is an opportunity area, now let’s start to break out how much of that time actually is value-added.

FS: And I would imagine, too, if you’re involving the employee all along, their eyes will start to see the waste and they may even just start applying some of this.

B: Yeah, they’re like why am I… Well, the first question is why is my dough sitting it on the ground and I’m having to bend and reach and that’s ergonomic issues and that’s potential problems. Why isn’t it up next to this shelf and set up for me? maybe it’s at an angle so I can just scoop it out and pop them out much easier. So just very simple things.

FS: And why am I not putting on a lid because, obviously, it could be out exposed to the air.

B: Yeah.

FS: Yeah, maybe that’s why they’re in bins, so the rats stay out of it.

B: Yeah, there’s lots of opportunity there. It’s good to have instructions and stuff, but it doesn’t seem like… There’s a lot of vagueness in what he was doing – “A couple of scoops of this, a couple of handfuls of this.” there is some opportunity.

FS: Sometimes what he was saying didn’t match up with what he was doing either. I was like, hey, a little bit of chicken? that was a lot of chicken.

B: And that will get you down to the level and break down the toppings and say the pepperonis take a long time to place on there. Is there easier ways to do that? so that’s how you would describe and put that onto the map and it would be part of this bigger map that we look at. And then, based on this current state, we would start to highlight opportunities and put a little verse to say we’re wasting a lot of toppings here, we’ve got a lot of inventory here, we’ve got a lot of inventory here. Maybe we have some customer complaints and we highlight how many customer complaints we’re having and try to figure out where those are coming from – is it they got the wrong topping, they got the wrong item, it took too long, it got delivered to the wrong location? what are those issues and start to highlight problems.

And then we, as a team, the whole team would decide where do we start, where is the biggest opportunities of those items, and come up with a plan to go with that with improvement events or a small team of people going off and looking into those. And then from there, we would say if we were to solve those issues, what would our future state look like? but I would also first go and do an ideal state -and I’m going to talk about that here in a second.

FS: Do sometimes people do it where they do the initial before their event and come into it with the map? is that the case sometimes or is it better because you want everybody in the room?

B: You want people to see how that’s pieced together I think.

FS: But do you want them to come with the data because we already have the data?

B: Yes, and that will be part of this gather data in the preparation phase to bring to the table. You really do want everybody to be hearing how the process is unfolding versus just popping in, giving their two cents, and leaving and they don’t really still see it. We’re trying to teach people the value stream and get familiar with how that whole process works.

The steps to go through is defining which product or service you want to focus on and that’s what defines the value stream. You might have many different products and services you offer, and we’re going to pick one of those that is struggling the most or having the most customer issues or costs or whatever criteria you use to drive improvements and we’re going to map out the flow of those requests from the customer through that whole process. And then you might, later, determine that if you have a series of or a family of products and services that all go through the same process so that might be how you want to map it, as a product or service family and I’ll talk about that.

Then we’ll talk through what the improvements need to be or what goals are we trying to achieve with that, then we’ll figure out who should be involved, go gather data in the preparation work and the observations, conduct the mapping events, develop an action plan, then check in every 30, 60, 90 days to make sure we’re on track and now you have like weekly meetings leading up to those. And then a refresher gets scheduled to say when should we come back and redo this mapping exercise to see where we’re at. Usually, it’s about a year. Every year, you should have an update to your map.

So the first thing is to find the product or service that has the most frequent requests, has the highest volume of work, or most amount of labor that goes into it, most critical products or services that you have – maybe it’s high visibility or it’s a growth area that we’re going to really expand this area in the future, and we really want to dial it in now – or we’ve had the most issues or problems or complaints, we talked about future growth area or high visibility or some other strategic reasons for doing that – this is a key customer that we really want to get right because that could lead to huge growth if we really get our products and service to that customer running smoothly. So whatever your criteria is, that determines which thing you value stream map.

Here’s an example of defining product families. These could be different products and services and you can look at the processes they go through and group them and say these are, essentially, the same type of thing and they go through the same flow, yet they’re different in some way – they’re different customers, they’re slightly different forms, they’re different payers, whatever it is – but generally, the flow is relatively similar. It’s the same people, it’s the same type of thing and so it makes sense that we’re going to actually map D and E together and have them both go through the same value stream mapping exercise, or A, B, and C together are almost identical, so let’s keep them together in a product or service family. That could be part of the assessment and these would be the steps of the processes that you have and these would be the different products or services that you offer. So wherever you see an alignment where these align together and match up pretty closely, it makes sense to keep them together into the value stream of some product family. If it’s a standalone and it’s only A and it has the only process, then you just keep it by itself but it’s easier if you can get more things into the same flow, then you have more repetition and you have more consistency in the process.

So then we determine do we need to improve on this value stream. If we’ve got to address customer complaints and issues, I would start there because that’s visibility to your customers and that’s important. We look at financial issues with overtime, profit margins, inventory, scrap, yield issues, warranty claims if you have that or penalty payments or are you guys liable for stuff now if they return in 30 days with treatment that didn’t work or that they have a recurrence of a problem in 30 days, do you have to pay for that?

FS: The nice thing, on the provider side, is you just get more money when they come back.

B: I thought that was starting to go away. Hospital side?

FS: Yeah, it is, the hospital side. It’s more value versus volume and it’s definitely coming our way.

B: So if you have money where, hey, we have to treat this patient a second or third time, that’s cost that is rework and that can be quantified somehow. Maybe you didn’t pay for it today, but you might know that that might go away in the future.

FS: Yeah, but that’s what’s broken about America.

B: We want to get ahead of that, so let’s get our costs down on that now in anticipation of those things coming. Flow issues, bottlenecks, missed deliveries, late deliveries, shortages of running out of supplies and materials. And then employee complaints and issues. So you have customers and you have employees that have issues – ergonomic issues, people who won’t show up, high turnover in certain areas, poor tools or lack of training going on, or constant interruptions and chaos in that area. That might be an area to start looking at too. Or you want to define the goal of this event is, ultimately, we need to break our inventory down, we need to reduce the bottlenecks so we can speed that response time to the customer, or we need to cut our overtime costs, or we need to reduce our customer complaints, but you want to define some key metrics they you’re trying to make better so the team can stay focused.

FS: I would think quality would be the other one.

B: Yeah, and I lumped it under customer complaints.

FS: It would be… Right, yeah.

B: And like scrap and I guess rework would be in here as part of the overtime. So you’re just at least defining here is what we’re trying to improve on so we can stay focused in the event and say, yes, that’s an opportunity, but remember, that’s not our biggest thing right now. We’re really trying to look at the financial part of this or the speed of the process or the inventory and how much work in process is going on there, so this gives a little prioritization to the teams.

Then we schedule a time. As soon as you know what you’re going to do and where you’re going to focus, get your team defined and get it on the calendar so you can actually carve out the time for that. And again, even if it’s some half-day sessions, it still takes time to coordinate that scheduling.

Identify key resources across the value stream and you want to have representation from everybody through that value stream. That’s why the size of the events can grow pretty large sometimes. I try to keep it to 12 or less. Getting to 30 people, that gets really difficult. But maybe for the process you’re looking at, it involves that many different departments and groups, then bring them on. And we’ll use a SIPOC diagram to help identify teams and resources. Sometimes we think about the people who do the work but we don’t think about all the stakeholders. For you guys, it may not be the customer; it may be an agency or a government department that has oversight and has issues with the process as well than just the end customer, so we want to include them in the discussion.

Find the people with the most experience; not people who are available. Someone had a good quote; they said, “Availability is not a skill set.” So just because someone is around or, usually, people say, “I can’t commit my most important person to this. I’m going to send the new person to go sit in on that event.” That’s not what you want. You need the most experienced person who can talk about what the process and how it works. Otherwise, you’re not going to get a pure picture of the current state and you’re not going to get buy-in for what comes out of that because they say, “Yeah, but they don’t really know the process, so what they said really is not accurate and so you we’re not buying into that switch.” So delay the event if you don’t have the right people. It’s better to get the right people there than try to rush through it with the wrong people.

Confirm the attendance and expectations. “We need you here. Make sure you’re going to be here. Your time is dedicated. You can’t be running around answering calls all day long too. You need to act like you’re on vacation. Just confirming. And there’s follow-up work that you’re going to have to be a part of as well, and your expectation is you are representing this department in this process. I know you used working quality, but now you’re in billing. You are representing billing; you’re not representing quality. We have someone else doing that. You can give input on that, but…” Sometimes people, they’re just a general observer and they don’t realize that you have to go take the information from the event back to your team and get some buy-in on that. So if you think they’re going to react negatively to what’s being proposed, you might need to step out and go call some people and say, “This is what they’re talking about doing. What do you guys think about this?” because you’re the representative of that team. There’s going to be some other things we’ll talk about around that with the daily report out to get people on the same page so it’s not a shock at the end of the week or the end of the sessions that, “That’s what you guys are proposing? Wait, I don’t like that at all.”

This is a SIPOC diagram. It’s Supplier Input Process Output Customer. It’s using the high-level value stream map steps, so you’re going to already sketch this out at a high level and then you’re going to use who was the recipient of work coming out of these processes. Basically, what is coming out of these processes and then who is the recipient of those things? and so there’s that documentation that comes out of the processes and who gets that documentation? and so you match up and list out all the customers of that process. Some are going to be the direct customer and some are going to be the indirect customers. And the same thing on this side – what are the inputs that go into this process? in the pizza exercise, it was the toppings and the dough and the workers and the oven and the building. And then who supplies that stuff, all the inputs? these are potential people to invite to the event, and these are people to invite to the event, and then everybody who works in the process are people to invite. It’s just a way to lay out and think about all the different stakeholders that might want to be involved.

If you can get customers and suppliers in the event, that’s great. Some people are a little scared to do that up front and they say, “I don’t want to expose ourselves to that quite yet. I want to do a little self-improvement in our own backyard first before I start telling our customers what’s broke,” but often, I find that customers are like, “I know it’s broken,” just like you guys are saying with your suppliers. They’re afraid that they’re going to see what’s going on and you’re like, “I already know it, you guys have inefficient processes, so it’s not going to be a surprise to me,” so they’re not shocked at what they’re going to see. I think that it creates a lot of value having them there, but I just added something like sometimes when we’re doing stuff with sustainability-minded, we want to include somebody who can represent the environment. Because you can’t invite mother nature to come into the event, so someone has to represent them – a nonprofit or some organization that can represent different stakeholders. That’s a tool I’ve used to try to help make sure we have the right people invited.

Then we gather data, so any issues and complaints, we capture. We conduct interviews and focus groups and just get to know people. I spend a lot of time, especially I’m usually an outsider to that group, so I invest a lot of time in getting to know people, finding out what they do, listening, asking good questions. And some of the timings that I’ll do, I actually cycle times and stuff, half of the value is to get the numbers, but the other half is to build rapport and to get them comfortable with me being out and looking at the work being done so that, when I do bring up ideas or suggestions, they know that I actually do know their process a little bit. I’m definitely not an expert, but I have spent a significant amount of time with them and I do know enough about the process to add to it and provide some useful insight. So there’s a lot of value with that, more than just getting numbers.

Pulling historical data as much as possible if that’s available. Checking inventory levels, so just going through. Right now, at Rebuilding Center, we’re looking at the donations process and we’re starting to gather data on how many carts are not processed at the end of each day. That’s going to be a baseline for improvement to say the goal is, at the end of the day, everything gets processed through the donations area and, today, six carts were left full, and tomorrow, there’s going to be four, and then the next day, there’ll be eight and then, one day, there will be zero. We’ll get a rough number that says three to six carts a night are not being processed and then, afterwards, hopefully, get that down to zero or one cart. We’re just trying to get an idea of these inventory levels and, a lot of times, it’s manual because we don’t have the system to tell us exactly what is going on in that particular area.

And then a scorecard and financial performance metrics that we can look at over a history. Usually, I pull twelve months’ worth of records because that gives me a full year cycle to look at what’s been going on. Has it been getting better and we’re trying to keep it going or has it been pretty steady at the same level and we want to make an improvement up or down, whichever way is better? so I want to at least I know what my baseline looks like.

It’s, again, typically three to five days, but we talked a lot about other options around that. The reason for the three to five days really is the momentum you’re getting because you’ve got everybody there, it’s the same audience, you’ve got commitment to it, and you’re going to make a lot more progress than if it’s broken up, but that’s not always feasible.

Within the event, we’re going to start off with some training – basic training; not super deep because they’re going to get more of the training as we go along. So even what I’m covering today in the workshop, that’s too detailed for what I would do at an actual event. I would probably play the video and then do the overview of what value stream map is and then jump into it.

Then we do a gemba walk, or go to the work area and observe what’s happening. Because everybody be might be coming in, this is the first time they’ve even been in this building or been to this area, so we want to expose them to the process and walk everybody through so we all see the value stream, physically walking it.

FS: Do you have any tips on the best way to do that when so much of the work is in the computer system? that’s one of the challenges I have when I try to do my gemba walks.

B: If it is heavy on the computer side, if it doesn’t make sense to physically go to their workspace, because there is value to actually see where people work in the office and the work environment they’re in and the noise level and the chaos going on, so that is important to physically go to where they work, but when they’re showing their screen, it’s hard to huddle around their cubicle or around their desk, so we’ll come back to the conference room and have them pull it up on the screen and say, “You just received an order. Can you go to your email, pull it up and pretend like we’re not here and walk through and show us what you do,” and you’ll see that what they explain isn’t as simple as when they go through there and you’ll see the error messages pop up and you’ll see the churning of the system going really slow and they’re like, “Yeah, around this time, the system just comes to a screeching halt and I’ve got to wait five minutes for that file to upload,” and you start seeing those wastes that they forget about until they actually are going through that process.

FS: So to have them do a walk-through on the screen?

B: A virtual walk-through basically, yeah. But I would like to try to get to their physical workspace and at least look at it as well, but that doesn’t always work out. Then from there, we can now have enough information to piece together this current state map and, after we’ve completed the map – and usually, people will skip over a lot of the data stuff, but I really want people to try to fill in as much as they can about that – and so that’s usually what takes longer. Because you can put together a map fairly quickly, but when you put a complete map together, it takes quite a bit of time. That can take a full day if you do it right.

MS: You mean the data collection itself?

B: Like the data box full filled out fully where we need a yield number. Can someone run off and go get that yield number? we need an inventory. Can someone go back and check and count up how many boxes are there or how many patients are waiting right there right now? to do that right, it actually does take a while. If I skip over a lot of that and just put the map up without the data boxes, I can do that much faster but I’m missing a lot of information that’s going to be helpful for the opportunities.

MS: It occurred to me that you would want to maybe do some of that data collection before you get to the training, right? because to get a really clear average of what’s happening at each level might require multiple points of data collection, multiple observations.

B: Yeah, and like lead times, I can’t get unless I start that early because the system might not have when someone came in or when this order came through. Maybe I have that, but even like a little travel letter card that someone, “When you see this red card, mark the date and time when you processed this,” and then we’ll send 20 of those cards through the system and see how long it actually takes to get through. So, yeah, you definitely need to do that ahead of time. I’ll often do the training a month in advance, like a light training about the data boxes and what we’re trying to do, maybe a month in advance of that. Usually, a couple of weeks is necessary. Within a week or two of the event is really rushed and you might not have the time to gather all of that information up.

Ideally, you could bring all of that to the table, but ultimately, there’s still stuff that gets lost or left out or someone was supposed to bring the data and didn’t, so go back to your desk and pull that report and then bring that to us because we need that fill it in here. So it’s just being very digital about having it completed as well as you can.

And then from the map, then we can take a step back and say, okay, now based on what we saw and what we heard, where do we highlight those opportunities and what do we see on the map, the numbers and the problems that we’re seeing? let’s highlight those to make them stand out on the map. Then we’ll go through the ideal state and the future state maps, so let me talk about that.

On the training side, it’s really just to get everyone on the same page. Some people have been through events before and they’re like this is old hat. Some people, this is brand-new, “I’ve never heard of Lean, I’ve never heard of value stream mapping,” so there’s something that can be done ahead of time. If there’s only a few people who need some heavier training, that can be done off-line too. You have to assess the team that you’ve invited and find out what can we do ahead of the event itself. If everybody needs to be trained on it, then we say, before the event, to do that. Because sometimes I’ve had last-minute drop-ins that, “So-and-so was going to come in and then they had something happen and I’m here now.” Well, we trained anticipating the other person was going to be here so, at the beginning, you still want to have some kind of overview training so at least they know what’s going on. You try to do it more hands-on as we go.

And then focus on the tools used in the event. We’re not going to get into a lot of other tools around Lean if we don’t anticipate we’re going to need that. But if it comes up and you say, you know what, actually, as we walk through here, we really need some 5S work on all these area, so let me pull up some information on 5S real quick and talk about that and let’s see if that’s maybe some events we should be doing in these areas. So I try to do just-in-time on that. And anything that we can do in training that has simulations or videos, that’s better to get people to learn than just going through a slide deck like this. In the other workshop I do, we actually do a little Lean simulation of before and after process and then try to improve the process and make it flow better.

The gemba walk idea concept is a really important one around Lean is to make sure you’re going to the work area and seeing with your own eyes what’s going on; not sitting in a conference room and making decisions about what happens. That includes interacting with the people and showing respect to what they do. They are the ones providing value, they’re the most knowledgeable of the process. Yes, you can give them ideas for how the process works, but you have to be respectful that they’re doing the really important work and we’re trying to understand what they do; not tell them that they’re doing it wrong. Help them see the waste is really the way I like to approach it.

The current state is what’s happening today. It’s 80% of what’s typically done, like I mentioned. It’s based on the data-gathering interviews that we do during and prior to the event. We’re just capturing the problems; we’re not talking about the solutions quite yet and we have to really understand the current state before we jump into the future state and that’s hard for people to do. They want to jump to the solutions and you have to pull people back and say, “Not yet. That’s great, let me write it down, but we’re still focused on understanding the current process because we’re going to make the same mistakes if we don’t understand why things are the way they are today.” That’s something you’re going to have to fight against and then you use this verse symbol on the maps to highlight the opportunities and I’ll show you some symbols at the end here.

When we’re going through the waste, we’re identifying customer satisfaction, the eight forms of waste I mentioned earlier, long lead times on the value stream mapping like we showed – five days it sits there before someone processes it – long cycle times – it takes three hours of labor to do that. Why does it take so long? Is all of that value-added? if that’s a big part of the delay in process. Where you see the most inventory or the bottlenecks in the process, even frustration areas that, yeah, I can do that work but it’s a pain and I hate it and I batch my work because I don’t like to deal with it because it’s such a pain. So maybe that’s something we can work on and make that simpler and easier for people to do.

Overburden is another type of waste that you to look for where a process is overwhelmed and it’s only a matter of time before it breaks, and that goes for people too. If you see a process where that person is always buried in work and they’re always stressed out and they’re always overloaded, they’re going to break at some point. So that could be a problem that this process is doing okay because this person is a superhero and they’re making it work, but they’re not going to last at that pace. So if you see those things, highlight those. That can be an area to focus on – how do we get a backup person for this person? how do we lower the amount of support going through that area? how do we offload some of their work so it’s not all going through that? or the instability of variation in the process where you see high ups and downs and fluctuations in the demand and how can we level out the demand or level out the workload or reduce the fluctuation in the quality of our suppliers or the variation in the worker performances?

FS: A lot of times, that’s caused by that. Actually, in my experience, because the one, the program I was telling you about that just was like one of the worst cases I’ve seen, there was a very efficient employee who had been there forever and so she had lots of things on her desk, one of which was processing enrollments. She could seriously do 100 enrollments in a day, which was pretty amazing. It would get to cut off time, she would do that, and then the next step was – this was with the TPA – so the next step was it went to the insurer and they would hate us because, suddenly, it’s like, “Here you go,” because they couldn’t do 100 a day. Actually, the funny thing was I actually supervised one of the payers as well as the TPA, and so they’d be like, “Stop it. Get her to stop that.” So eventually, we fixed that, but in her mind, she just didn’t realize. She thought she was being super efficient and she was overwhelming the rest of the system. And in the meantime, that enrollment was just sitting there for 30 days waiting until, in her mind, that priority. And again, people didn’t care where the cutoff was; they wanted to know did you get it? have you processed it? so, yeah, it was really amazing.

B: Yeah, like were their service-level agreements or something – I’ve got to get this turned around in three days? people will do that. They wait and say, “What are all the ones that are due today and let me do all of those,” at 2 1/2 days when the 3-day turnaround was due, but the process gets stuck for 2 1/2 days for no reason.

FS: The crazy thing was, actually, people could apply 90 days before their effective date and they would always take the ones closer to the effective date. So if you were like…. I’m like you don’t get on the ball people are the ones who need to know that it happened and they’re the ones that are having to wait.

B: And they’re calling up, “Where is mine at?” and they interrupt and they disrupt the process.

FS: That’s exactly what was happening; it was horrible. Anyway, we did really streamline that. It was great.

B: Those are things to look for in there for opportunities. I’m running out of time here, but I want to take five or ten minutes to just finish here.

FS: I’m good.

B: Okay, thanks. We’re almost done. The ideal state would be what if you were to set up the process from scratch, no boundaries, all the money, all the people you want and set up a process that’s defect-free, just-in-time, one piece at a time, minimal inventory, very low cost, all the steps and work is value-added, and very minimal space requirements too. So it’s this perfect world, and again, it’s to break people out of their current thinking – “We can’t do that. The system won’t let us do that.” That’s okay. We’re going to put it up here. You’ll be surprised how many things that actually we can do and move towards ideal state once we’ve got our mind around that.

And then we come back to reality and say what we actually do with the future state? you usually look about 6 to 12 months out as the goal – what can we do in the next 6 to 12 months. Limited budget, so what can we do with low-cost? we don’t want to say we need $1 million to buy this machine or do this operating system or use this software package or develop some new system. What can I do that’s low-budget that I can implement very soon and test out if it’s going to work? and know that you have limited resources, so what is the most effective thing we can do to move us forward towards this ideal state? and we have current limitations, so what can we do to work around those limitations? we can’t change regulatory stuff, we’re not going to influence the agency and let them stop selling sending this form in, but what can we do to make that work less hectic for us in the short term? and we have to comply with our procedures and policies as an organization. So you’re going to have these limitations in there, but trying to find low-cost, best bang for the buck opportunities.

This is how I like to do the discussion is current state map to ideal state discussion. It’s not really a map; it’s just more theoretical discussion. And then come back and say, now, not going from current state to future state, instead going from ideal state to future state. That helps break people out of this mindset too that I can only tweak. When I do it this way, I seem to get much more aggressive and creative, innovative ways of getting to future state than I’m just going to go and lightly tweak the current state. It just doesn’t get the results that way.

Then we come up with an action plan and we can use some voting. You saw in the video, they use little stickers to highlight red dots where there are problem areas and the stickers were a vote. You give people three to seven different dots and they get to place them where they think the biggest problems are at and that’s the voting system that they use. It’s called multi-voting, so it’s not all or nothing. People get to spread out their votes a little bit and that makes it a little easier to adopt. Okay, they didn’t like my number one idea, but number two and number three areas got highlighted, so I’m okay with that. It gets a little more buy-in when you do it that way. But you have to have an action plan that comes out of the event with main states and deliverables, so what constitutes that I completed that task because, sometimes, there’s a lot of ambiguity in that. People think that I’m done, but it’s like, no, you’re not done yet. That procedure has to be released. It’s not that you just wrote up a draft and emailed it out; that action needs to be all the way through to release of the new document. Stuff like that needs to be clarified in those action items.

You can also use this impact and ease matrix or some version of that where you’ve got how easy is it to implement and how much impact it will have when we implement it. Ideally, the stuff up here, in this upper right quadrant, would be very easy to implement and high-value, high impact to process, and down here would be hard or difficult to implement – maybe because of cost reasons or just complexity of what you’re doing – and the impact would be very minimal. It just allows you to make sure you’re working on the best valuable things you can do.

This is the voting system where you use the dots to help you vote on what the best solutions are or the best areas to focus on or wherever you’re getting stuck with the team, go to some kind of a multi-voting dot system that can help get people moving forward a little bit. Not as super scientific, but it’s getting people’s ideas into something more quantifiable. And then having different times of about – and most of you probably have something that looks like that you can use – but the thing I was just highlighting is what is the end deliverable for that action. For updating, procedure has to be released, and emailing the photos means you have to actually send an email out to the team with the photos in it, then you’re done. Or setting up a kaizen event is actually not done until you actually have the report out. You can’t just say I scheduled it. I’m done. No, we want to see the results of the kaizen event, that’s what we’re done with this action. So it’s still open until that’s done. So just having clarity about what that means is best practices.

And then a 30, 60, 90-day follow-up. I would set a schedule of those right away so they’re already in the calendar and you know they’re coming up, and then I would have weekly check-ins on those actions to make sure that you don’t get to 30 days and you’re caught off guard like, “I totally forgot about that. Let me start working on that now.” I would want to know, right away, first week afterwards, have a review meeting because you want to carry that momentum forward to the next week.

And then consider these kaizen event type of things of focused efforts on the improvement on some of those actions. Especially the more people that are involved in completing an action item, the more you want to make it more like an event; not just a meeting to get together. That might require some more facilitation from somebody to help on that.

And then track progress after the improvements – did we actually things done? sometimes, it gets worse before it gets better. As we start processing all the backlog, all of a sudden, we start uncovering all the problems and exposing all of that. We’re cleaning it out, but in the short term, the metrics are worse and then, eventually, we’ll break through and the metrics will get better. Sometimes, you’ll see negative results right away. The other complaint I get sometimes is, “Before we started doing the Lean stuff, we didn’t have all of these problems. Now we have all of these issues showing up,” and it’s like you had those. They were there, you just didn’t see them or you weren’t exposing them. Lean is all about exposing problems, so all of the tools of Lean are set up to make the problem stand out and be obvious and painful so that you can go fix them. If you don’t like problems and you don’t want to solve the problems, then Lean is probably not the thing you want to do because it’s only going to expose those things. The problems were always there; we’re just trying to bring them to the surface.

And then have a refresher scheduled probably more on the 12 to 18 months is what I’ve seen in terms of having a refresher updated value stream map. I would actually go back through and recreate it. Some people take the old one and update it. You can use that as a reference, but I would actually go through the exercise of recreating each. You can have different people involved and things are going to change and you don’t want to just assume that that’s the same as it was. Actually, I would schedule it ahead of time and then build in some prep time in there too and then that allows you to capture the benefits from the last event – what actually got better. And then I mentioned that about you shouldn’t be changing the current state. If the current state is the exact same as it what it was before, then that’s a bad sign and nothing got improved.

And then the rest of this – and again, I’m going to send out these slides – is all the different symbols that go along with value stream mapping. That’s taken out of this book Learning to See. You can look at it; you can glance through that. That’s the best book out there for value stream mapping. That’s what the symbols are from.

To summarize, it’s value stream mapping is a really good tool to get your teams aligned to the horizontal flow of your processes that the customer is more likely to experience not just within your own department. That allows us to see the flow inhibitors in the process. I’ve seen where you can cut 50% or more out of the lead time just by going through the exercise of making improvements in that. Half the time, it’s just so obvious because people just never looked at it from that angle and that perspective.

It takes a lot of effort, but it’s very, very valuable. I don’t know if it would be the first thing I would do right away because there might be some easier things people can do in their own area first to get the momentum around Lean, but as quickly as I can, I would like to get to the value stream map level so I know I’m working on the right areas and spending my effort and resources in the right areas that actually is a constraint or a bottleneck for the whole process. So I then conduct the current, then ideal, then future state map. Again, the ideal is not really a map; it’s more just theoretical discussion around what’s going on.

And the key is the follow-up and it’s not the facilitator’s job to follow up; it’s the process owner. So someone is responsible for making that value stream run smoothly and they’re the ones that need to make sure those actions are done. Sometimes, as a facilitator, I get dumped on, “We need you to manage these actions.” I’m like, “I can help and I can remind you, but I can’t make people do the actions. You’re the one who’s responsible for this value stream, so you have the authority to drive people and work the priorities for people to make sure those things get done.”

And then there’s the book, Learning to See, and there’s another book called Value Stream Mapping from Karen Martin. That’s pretty good I’ve heard. I haven’t actually read that one, but a lot of people have recommended that, so that’s another one you can check out. Is there any questions?

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