There are many of us Lean Six Sigma Practitioners who know how to conduct a successful Value Stream Mapping (VSM) session. We all have experienced the exhilaration of the future state on paper and anticipation of the business results this new process will achieve. We leave the conference room with the agreed timeline and assigned resources to bring it into existent. The project review meetings are scheduled (usually monthly or quarterly), project outlines are now in SharePoint, and the required projects have now started. Then, the first monthly project review meeting is held and the results are not good. None of the projects are on time, in fact there is no tracking against a timeline, there is “finger pointing” as to why something never got done, there are many production excuses as to why projects are behind, some of the key project people are not at this first meeting, the organization leader has sent their apologies as to why they cannot make this meeting but assures everyone it is important, and the meeting concludes with no real actions determined to get back on track.
Unfortunately this type of project progress, described above, happens more often than not. The VSM session results started with some momentum but quickly went away, why? There are many reasons, but having no organizational support structure or methods to support strategic projects is the most significant. Here are the required organization support structure and methods required:
- The management team agrees to use Value Stream Mapping as part of their strategy deployment. This includes obtaining the required budget approvals for the anticipated resources.
- The determined VSM team must come to the session with real process data. Time must be given to team members, prior to the VSM session, to take actual measurements of their part of the process. For example, there are not many organizations who measure individual process step cycle time especially if it is transactional cycle time. Too many VSM’s are conducted with data from experience and from my knowledge they are wrong almost 100% of the time. This will not only lead the VSM team to wrong conclusions but it can also cause the team to miss identifying the process bottleneck.
- Organization leader must open the VSM session with a strong message as to why this value stream must improve. What are the consequences if the value stream results stay the same? How does it align with the current strategy? What do the improved results provide for employees and customers? What will be the key metric of success?
- Assigned VSM solutions must be identified into the following categories:
- Just do it
- Short term (less than 30 days)
- Medium term (less than 90 days)
- Long term (less than 150 days)
- All projects must be in A3 project format with a single summary page for executive project updates.
- Not only the Leader but all managers must commit and allocate time for the assigned people to work on the required Future State projects. This allocated time must be visually managed with a posted matrix of the agreed upon schedule. If someone misses their allocated time then the manager and this person agree on a new time to make up this missed time.
- Resources like production time, axillary equipment, expenditures, training, and materials must also be planned for and approved.
- Setting up visual management in the Gemba, providing:
- Daily progress of the VSM projects
- Daily results of the VSM key metric
- Project timeline results with identified roadblocks when getting off track
- Matrix of when people are scheduled to work on the projects
- Management team designs the required Standard Work for Leaders. These are the DAILY checks managers are assigned in order to Support, Teach, and Promote (what I call Gemba STP) the Future State project evolution, while they are on the daily Gemba walk.
Implementing the above organization support structure and methods will ensure your current state process flow will become the Future State flow your team has designed.
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