"All we are doing is looking to reduce the time line between the point of getting a customer to the collecting the cash" - Tahichi Ohno
I believe Value Stream Mapping (VSM) is somewhat misunderstood. I myself have recently made a "mea culpa" for not having given it the relevance it deserves, and in this "mea culpa" I was led to reflect on the characteristics that make VSM such a powerful and unfairly despised tool.
Value Stream Mapping does not present itself as a "tool" of improvement in that it is incapable of translating itself into quick benefits, such as those that motivate so many to try this course.
I also remember that, having always been a process driven person, I have been surprised by the VSM as opposed to so many other "tools", namely the classical process diagram.
So what?, I remember asking.
Clearly I was not ready to begin to understand the answer. Obscured by the fascination with kaizen workshops, and by the quick results, I did not realize the magic within the simplicity of VSM:
First, the question that is at the center of concerns: the flow. VSM assumes that organizations are truly customer oriented, and therefore it isn’t strange that the aim is to deliver their product as quickly as possible, without compromising on quality or cost. The flow of materials and information (to which VSM gives the well deserved importance), comes to the fore, with productivity taking the role of "collateral" effect.
Secondly, the power of VSM is in the way it enables us to develop a vision of the future. The way I have learned to design the future state (following the methodology proposed in the "Learning to See" manual), presupposes a collaborative work where it’s asked, one by one, the supposed obstacles in a logical sequence which allows the reduction and, consequently, devaluation of the size of the necessary changes, identifying interdependent initiatives and mobilizing the different team members in a joint effort.
Finally, VSM, for its expressiveness, results in a powerful communication tool. Its graphic design allows a clear perception of the situation and allows the communication of a vision of a future full of promises to those who are somewhat engaged transformation efforts.
In summary, Value Stream Mapping brings together the 3 major pillars of a transformation:
Alignment - for the ultimate goal of reducing lead time to customer;
Engagement- of the teams, acting in concert towards the common vision;
Methodology - of the systematic reduction of waste along the value stream.