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Value Stream Mapping Your Way Out of Waste

No one likes waste, but the question is, what the best way to get rid of it?  The answer is Lean, whose fundamental objective is to create maximum value through the elimination of waste.  In essence, finding processes to get things done with less effort, less time, and fewer resources.

Originally conceived in post-war Japan by a Toyota engineer to reduce waste in operations while exceeding quality, the concept eventually became the Lean methodology as we know it.  Today, Lean is not only synonymous with manufacturing but across all industries, including management consulting.  Lean concepts are valued in management consulting, as their goals are identical – identifying and reducing waste while exceeding quality within their clients’ operations.

Principles of Lean

With continuous improvement in mind, Lean is broken into five principles.

  1. Define value – from the viewpoint of the customer or client, meeting their needs at specified price and time
  2. Map the value stream – create a map of current state, categorizing any waste and listing future states
  3. Create flow – after removing waste, make the remaining steps flow
  4. Establish pull – reacting to customer or client demand
  5. Pursuit of perfection – there is always room for continuous improvement when it comes to reducing time, cost, and effort.

Lean is a cyclic process. In seeking continuous improvement (the 5th principle) you are brought back to the beginning of the process of defining value.  As processes evolve, new forms of waste can be identified, and the cycle continues infinitely. 

There are numerous tools that can be used to support the Lean cycle, including 5S organization Kaizen, Kanban, FOCUS PDCA, and Value Stream Mapping.

Value Stream Mapping

While some Lean tools are more appropriate for one industry over another, Value Stream Mapping is commonly used across all industries as it directly relates to specific principles of Lean to map the value stream and create flow.

To give context to how Lean process improvement principles are used within the lifecycle of a process improvement engagement, we can look at how Value Stream Mapping is used during Trindent’s approach.

Starting with an opportunity assessment, Value Stream Mapping allows a consulting team to create a detailed visualization of all the steps in the client’s work process, showing areas where the process can be improved by visualizing both its value adding and non-value adding (wasteful) steps.  By mapping the value stream, the engagement team is able to visualize the entire process, see the challenges, and develop a clear action plan with a path to meet improvement targets.  During an engagement, Value Stream Mapping provides the foundation to remove waste and to create flows that achieve business improvement objectives.

Learn more about how Trindent uses Value Stream Mapping and other Lean process improvement tools, paired with our industry specific expertise as a proven path to successfully tackle the challenge of waste.