11.07.2008

A New Way to Look at the Value Stream

(This is the third of several guest postings by Carlos Venegas, author of Flow in the Office: Implementing and Sustaining Lean Improvements. He is a principal in Straus Forest and can be reached at Carlos@StrausForest.com.)

In the previous two blog posts, I raised the question "why are people processes not reflected in some way on the Value Stream Map?" Then I presented a case in which my colleague, Ann Dorgan, and I introduced a countermeasure to that question. Now I'll share how we got at the people waste, and once we found them, what we did with them.

But first, why are people wastes important? Jeffery Liker writes about what he calls the 8th waste: "unused employee creativity" which he defines as "losing time, ideas, skills, improvements, and learning opportunities by not engaging or listening to your employees." (This quote came from The Toyota Way, page 29.) The people wastes I'm talking about get in the way of employee creativity, engagement, and all those other things that Liker refers to. Here's a partial list of people wastes:

Lack of:
· Employee influence over the processes they use
· Job-related training
· Follow-through or feedback
Unclear:
· Vision, mission, goals, and strategy
· Responsibilities and authority
· Rewards and consequences
Also:
· Competition (within the organization)
· Uninformed or misinformed employees
· Mishandled conflict
· Ineffective communication
· Ineffective meetings
· Turnover
· Schedule slips

So, how did find these people wastes in the value stream? We asked the team to identify places in the process where people wastes showed up. These became opportunities for improvement, just like process improvement opportunities. The team then illustrated the future state with the people wastes removed. Finally, the identified countermeasures to resolve the people waste, and put them into the implementation plan.

The tricky part in all this is to not let the conversation devolve into emotional complaining and bickering or, worse, become personal (which can happen even when discussing process breakdowns). First, we told the team we were not interested in names, only the types of people waste that they identify. Second, we reminded the team that people wastes point to process and perhaps training issues. And that's exactly how we use the human dimension--as pointers to process and training issues that require process and training solutions.

We actually videotaped the value-stream mapping workshop where we introduced the concept of people wastes. We'll probably put some of it up on YouTube next year. If you want to get an alert when that happens, go to
http://www.strausforest.com/ and get on the list.

In the mean time, Ann and I are interested in your feedback and thoughts.

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