It’s not the Map that Counts


Congratulations. You've mapped out the future state. Now what? | Markovitz Consulting

Here's a post, linked above, from a good friend of the Lean Blog, Dan Markovitz.

“After you map the current state, you create a “future state” map that depicts the improvements to that value stream. And this is where things go awry. The people who have so laboriously mapped out the new direction don't have the time to actually make the changes. They barely have enough time to do all of their regular work, to say nothing of the extra work involved in making the lean transformation. So the future state map is only partially implemented, the 30-, 60-, and 90-day milestones go unmet, and everyone is left muttering, “Yeah, that was kind of a cool project, but it didn't really make much of a difference in how we do stuff. Everyone's personnel evaluations are still six weeks late.”

I agree with Dan. I'd go further and suggest that if you don't have a plan for how you're going to implement changes identified in the VSM activity, then don't even bother. There's little value in the map itself if you're not using it to drive improvement.

This is a frequent Catch-22 in organizations, including hospitals:

  1. We know we need to get better, but
  2. We don't have time to make improvements
  3. So that makes things worse…

And the cycle continues. Sometimes you have to “bite the bullet” and invest some of your people's time to kick off initial Lean improvements. You have to jump start the process. Some organizations will actually approve overtime in the short-term to create some time for initial activities. Once improvements are underway, time freed up by efficiency improvements and quality improvements (reduced inspection and rework time) should free up time for more improvement and a “virtuous cycle” can began, where improvements lead to more improvements.

Do you have any tips for managers? How do you free up your own time for kaizen activities, after a Value Stream Mapping exercise or otherwise? How do you free up your employees' time to encourage kaizen?

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Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker who has worked in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. His latest book is Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. He also published the anthology Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.

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