Reader Question on VSM
Here's a question from Gerry, a blog reader:
Once you do a 2 or 3 day Value Stream Mapping event, would you do another event on the same process to refine it even more? One of our CI / Lean coordinator suggests that you would “spin” or do another VSM up to 6 times before you have all the waste removed. This coordinator is not a seasoned lean facilitator and I believe he focus on work scope reduction to much.
I wrote back to him and said:
Well, it depends. I would never have a set goal for the # of Value Stream Mapping or Kaizen events needed in an area. For example, why would you keep working in an area that was no longer your biggest business problem? If I had limited support resources, I'd focus them on my biggest opportunity for improving quality, customer service, etc. When I work in an area, I'd try to teach them tools to keep kaizening their process in an ongoing basis.
Thinking about this some more, I would also caution against an over reliance on VSM or Kaizen Events for driving improvement. VSM's are certainly a helpful tool and Kaizen Events can help, but those can't be your only improvement mechanism. As I started to say in the last paragraph, you have to get ALL of your employees engaged in continuous improvement and daily kaizen activities. That activity should NEVER stop, since you'll always have waste and have to push toward continuous improvement.
But, at some point, your formal VSM/Kaizen activity should move onto a new area or an area that is a bigger problem for the business.
Does anyone else have a response for or advice for Gerry and his organization?