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EVSM or Value Stream Mapping?

Although I am a Raving Fan of Value Stream Mapping I do have a problem with the tool so I have migrated to using Enterprise Value Stream Mapping instead.

Value stream mapping is wildly popular by many organizations embracing Lean Methodologies. Among the likely drivers of value stream mapping's popularity is the book "Learning to See: Value Stream Mapping to Add Value and Eliminate MUDA." In it authors John Shook and Mike Rother describe value stream mapping, in part, as "all the actions (both value added and non-value added) currently required to bring a product through the main flows essential to every product.”

Unfortunately, in many cases the completion of a Value Stream Map to many organizations is deemed as an accomplishment. We must remember Value Stream Mapping is just a tool and needs to be utilized thus … so a couple of reminders for the folks that are using the tool;

• Developing a Value Stream Map is not a destination but rather a tool

• You need to re-do your value Stream Map at minimum annually

• Use “out-side eyes” if possible so you can see the forest instead of the trees

• Constructing your Value Stream map allows folks within your organization the liberty to be “on” the business instead of being “in” the business for a few days.

• A “Current State Map” without a “Future State map” is a waste of time

• Opportunities identified during a mapping exercise can and should be quantified

and developed within your business operating plan.

• Revisit your opportunities often to insure they are being


What is my problem with Value Steam Mapping (VSM)?

To begin, VSM identifies Waste through the "Lens of Inventory". I agree this can provide a significant revelation to an observer and will definitely spur a ton of Continuous Improvement activity typically around Set-Up Reduction using the principals of SMED (Single Minute Exchange of Dies) which although great it still falls short.

If you look within your organization and examine your Total Production Lead Time you will most likely find that 80-90% of the time is spent dwelling in various Office and Administrative activities. Yes, VSM will show you the waste if you look at the inventory of information sitting in people's in-boxes either physically or electronically. This is where Enterprise Value Stream Mapping starts to shine with just one key question.

Indeed i want to examine and know the Processing Time and also the Frequency those tasks are done daily or weekly, but the most important question is "What percentage of time can the person perform their task without needing additional information or clarification?" known as "Complete & Accurate".

The responses will shock you, perhaps even stun you and if you are brave enough to calculate this metric as a rolled through-put calculation don't be surprised if you are at zero very quickly.

I love the book by Mike Rother wrote "Learning to See" but in his diagrams Production Control is illustrated as the center of the universe ... shocking news!, it is not. I would suggest that you read the book written by Drew Locker and Beau Keyte "Enterprise Value Stream Mapping" instead. Especially if you have Processes heavily dominated with administrative operations, or only administrative or service oriented businesses like Insurance, Finance industries.

These days with diminishing resources we see organizations trying To rush through mapping exercises, when in essence they need To slow down, observe, in order to go faster. Take the next challenge and use the methodology of Enterprise Value Stream Mapping, or contact us to facilitate a workshop.


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