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Monday, October 2, 2023

Lean Tips Edition #210 (#3361 - #3375)

For my Facebook fans you already know about this great feature. But for those of you that are not connected to A Lean Journey on Facebook or Twitter I post daily a feature I call Lean Tips.  It is meant to be advice, things I learned from experience, and some knowledge tidbits about Lean to help you along your journey.  Another great reason to like A Lean Journey on Facebook.

Here is the next addition of tips from the Facebook page:

Lean Tip #3361 – Use a Team to Create the Maps and a Plan

Having one person create the map means you used only one brain and two hands. The information gathered may be biased or, even worse, incorrect. Decisions need to be made for what is best for the entire value stream, and that’s hard to do with only one person. Make sure you use a good cross-functional team to walk the shop floor, analyze part flow, gather the information, and then draw the map.

Ideally, someone with experience in VSM should lead the initial meetings. A person who has drawn several maps can help determine the process families with the team, teach the team the correct way to collect data and information, show how to draw the maps, coach toward a better future state, and facilitate a successful event.

Lean Tip #3362 – Don’t Expect Everything to Show up on the Map

Even though the maps will give you great information and insights for improvement, they typically do not have other enterprise wide initiatives that an organization should undertake during its lean journey, such as 5S workplace organization and standardization. A company needs to have 5S everywhere, and VSMs may show only an area or process that needs 5S, not the entire facility. Also, other important functions like communication and training do not usually show up as an action item on a VSM, but these functions are extremely important while implementing lean concepts.

Lean Tip #3363 – Start With the Big Picture

Begin with a door-to-door VSM of one of your process families. Try not to dive into a departmental or cross-functional map before developing the higher-level map. By seeing the big picture, you will be able to make better decisions about your value stream. If you dive into a lower-level VSM, you may not get the results you were hoping for.

The massive map may, for example, uncover problems with welding fixtures. That’s fine, but a door-to-door map—one that identifies welding as part of the “fabrication” step—shows a different story. The map reveals that fabrication takes five days, but order entry and engineering takes 10 days. The broader map shows where to start—in this case, order entry and engineering. Drawing a detailed map here will probably reveal significant waste, and show you where you will get the biggest bang for your improvement buck.

Lean Tip #3364 – Post Maps Where People Will See Them

Don’t hide your maps. A key benefit of displaying your value stream maps is to communicate what is going to happen at your organization over the next few months or during the next year. Many people resist change because they fear the unknown. Posting the maps with the plan removes or eliminates this fear. It’s also a way to start discussions and obtain buy-in and ideas for improvement. Don’t hide your maps; be proud of them!

Lean Tip #3365 – Eliminate Waste, Don’t Create It

When it comes to VSM, people often become so enamored with their own bureaucracy or analysis that they are just wasting valuable resources, especially time. I’m talking about the people who spend too much time making fancy graphs from the data that was collected, or the ones that want to get the data down to the one-hundredth decimal point. Remember what you are trying to do here: eliminate waste, not create more.

Lean Tip #3366 – Align VSM with Strategic Goals

Before you start mapping your value streams, you need to have a clear vision of what you want to achieve and how it aligns with your organization's strategic goals. VSM is not a one-time project, but a continuous improvement process that requires commitment and alignment from all levels of the organization. Therefore, you need to communicate the purpose, benefits, and expectations of VSM to your stakeholders, sponsors, and team members, and ensure that they are on board with the change.

Lean Tip #3367 – Involve the Right People and Perspectives

Another key factor for successful VSM is involving the right people and perspectives in the mapping process. You need to have a cross-functional team that includes representatives from all the roles and functions involved in the value stream, as well as customers and suppliers if possible. You also need to have a facilitator who can guide the team through the mapping steps, ensure that everyone's voice is heard, and resolve any conflicts or issues. By involving the right people and perspectives, you can ensure that your VSM reflects the reality of the process, captures the pain points and opportunities, and generates buy-in and ownership for the improvement actions.

Lean Tip #3368 – Review and Update your VSM Regularly

VSM is not a static document, but a dynamic tool that reflects the changes in your process, customer needs, market conditions, and organizational goals. Therefore, you need to review your VSM periodically, and update it as necessary. You should also use your VSM as a basis for identifying new value streams or areas for improvement, and apply the same VSM methodology to them. By reviewing and updating your VSM regularly, you can ensure that your VSM remains relevant, accurate, and effective.

Lean Tip #3369 – Involve as Many Employees as Possible

Involving as many employees as possible can help the team identify points of interest, such as process improvements and potential efficiency leads. The more varied insight you can gather on your value stream identification team, the more a team may be able to creatively improve the process. Consider scheduling meetings with employee groups based on their involvement with the project, such as management meetings for value plan discussion and separate departmental meetings for specific action plan reviews.

Lean Tip #3370 – Implement Changes Gradually

Even though you want rapid improvements and results, it’s important that you don’t change too much too soon. A complete overhaul of your business practices could lead to more harm than gain.

The smarter approach is to make one change at a time. Once you implement a change, sit on it long enough to measure the true results of that change. Then you can move on to the next fix.

If you aren’t tracking your progress with real data, then you won't really know which changes are having the most meaningful impact on your business. At best, you’ll miss opportunities. At worst, you’ll damage your process and hurt the business.

Lean Tip #3371 – Communicate Clearly and Frequently

Communication is the key to any successful team. Communicate clearly and frequently with your team members, using the appropriate channels and tools. Share your vision, objectives, expectations, and feedback with them. Listen actively and empathically to their ideas, opinions, and concerns. Encourage open and honest dialogue, and avoid assumptions, judgments, and misunderstandings.

Lean Tip #3372 – Collaborate Effectively and Inclusively

Collaboration is the essence of teamwork. Collaborate effectively and inclusively with your team members, using the best practices and methods for your project. Involve them in the planning, decision-making, and problem-solving processes. Delegate tasks and responsibilities according to their skills and interests. Recognize and leverage their diverse talents and contributions. Support and help them when they need it.

Lean Tip #3373 – Give and Receive Feedback Constructively

Feedback is the fuel for growth and improvement. Give and receive feedback constructively with your team members, using the principles and techniques of positive feedback. Give feedback that is specific, timely, relevant, and actionable. Receive feedback that is respectful, honest, and helpful. Appreciate and acknowledge the feedback you receive, and act on it accordingly.

Lean Tip #3374 – Celebrate and Reward Success

Success is the result of hard work and dedication. Celebrate and reward success with your team members, using the appropriate ways and means. Celebrate the milestones, achievements, and wins of your team and individual members. Reward them with recognition, appreciation, and incentives. Express your gratitude and pride for their efforts and outcomes.

Lean Tip #3375 – Resolve and Learn from Conflict

Conflict is inevitable and natural in any team. Resolve and learn from conflict with your team members, using the skills and strategies of conflict management. Resolve conflict quickly and peacefully, focusing on the issues, not the personalities. Learn from conflict, using it as an opportunity to improve your relationships, processes, and results.

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