Value Streams Are Misunderstood
I really like seeing more and more organizations trying to implement lean. Seeing organizations start to understand lean and want to improve using the lean mindset and principles is very refreshing. A great step in the right direction.
But not all lean starts are created equally. Or for that matter even get off on the right foot.
I recently saw a company giving a presentation on some HR practices and apprenticeship. They were doing some really great stuff around apprenticeship for a machining shop.
What caught my eye was their comments about lean and aligning to value streams. The company listed their value streams on a slide. The first few sounded more like machining functions rather than a value stream but I don’t understand the business so I could be wrong. Then I saw the bottom half of the list: Accounting, Project Management, Human Resources, etc…
Yikes! These are not value streams. These are functions that support value streams.
Misunderstanding of value streams is quite normal. In order to be a value stream, it has to create value for the customer. To understand what creates value a company has to have a definition of value.
I use one I learned from the Lean Learning Center:
- The customer must be willing to pay for it
- It must change the form, fit or function of the product/service
- It must be done right the first time
In a machining shop, accounting does not create any value for the customer. Nor does Project Management.
Value streams are linked process that create value to a product or service for customer. The are not departments (accounting , project management) or functions (milling, cutting).
Grasping the true meaning of value streams and what your companies value streams are can really open your eyes to the improvement possibilities.