Think Before Developing a Future State

One of the most common tools used in lean is a Value Stream Map (VSM).  During this process a team draws out the current state using certain mapping techniques.  The second step is to draw out a future or ideal state map, then add improvement ideas to the current state that would help to get to the future state.

I completely agree with the need to draw out the future state so you know what direction you are heading in.   It helps give guidance to the improvement ideas.

What if part of the future state is given to the team ahead of time?  An example might be, the lead time must be X.  What if you suspect the team will shoot for the target exactly, saving anything extra for the next year because they know they will have to keep improving?

I have found drawing the future state can impede stretching the limits of improvement.  When I suspect this to be the case, I have the team ’empty their pockets’ of all their improvement ideas.  I do this after the current state map but before the future state map.

I then take the team through a vetting exercise.  What would be the benefits?   The hurdles?  What kind of resources would be needed?  Then as a team we decide on the top ideas to implement.

The next step is to draw the future state map showing all the benefits of the top improvement ideas.  Did we reach the goal given to us?  Or exceed it?  If so, we are done.  If we fell short then we go back to the ideas not selected and pick more to add to the future state map.  So far, in every case the future state map has shown bigger improvements than the targets that were set.  Now the team has a little wiggle room for error and still hit the target.

Like every lean tool, we have to think about the purpose of the tool and our situation in order to use it best.


Posted on September 3, 2010, in Tools and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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