Strength based value stream mapping

When you go out to map a current state value stream you look for a baseline in measurements and observations. Where is the gap between the current and the future state and how to bridge it? Maybe you have a value stream plan at the ready. You look for the opportunities to reduce waste and struggle and produce to the rythym of the customer

A complementary approach

I not only look at what could be better, but also at what is working well. Because there are great lessons to be learned from that as well. The measurements you use (cycle time, takt time etc) remain the same, but you try to measure what they look like the process was working at it's best. You start looking for strengths. This way of looking at work comes from appreciative inquiry
The 7 values as opposite to down time

So how do you do this?

Look at the data

You go and look for the process working at it's best by looking at the data:

  • When did we meet takt time?
  • When and where did we have flow in our process?
  • When did we have the fewest defects?
  • When did we have the fastest cycle times?
  • When did we have the fastest lead times?
  • When did we have the lowest inventory?
  • When did we have the highest customer satisfaction?
  • And you can do this with any measurement you want

The idea behind this is that there are always strengths you can build on. You can look at the root causes of these best performances and build on them to improve your performance. 

Go and see

You will also need to go to the gemba and see for yourself where you spot the seven values from the image above.  Where do you see simplicity, just in time production and so on. What makes it work well? There is a special way of interviewing people when looking for these strengths. It is called the appreciative interview. You can see some examples in the image below. 

The appreciative interview

These questions will at first seem strange to people at first (are you not there to look at what should be better?), but during the interview you will see the pride shine through. You can ask when people got complimented on their work by either co-workers, management or customers. When they feel their work just flows effortlessly and what they feel makes this effortlessness possible.

Why do this?

For me it has never been an either or choice. I always look at both what could be better and what works well. I have found that things you give attention to grow. By giving attention to things that already go well or went well in the past we can not only close performance gaps, but also put a different kind of energy in our change efforts. Depending on the situation and the preferences of the organization or teams I will choose a balance between the two ways of looking at the value stream. There are organizations who do not take well to appreciative inquiry. They feel it is to soft. But there are also organizations where self esteem is low and it may be extremely helpful to focus more on what is already going well. So choose your approach to match the situation.

Further reading about appreciative inquiry

There are several resources on this site to get you better acquainted with appreciative inquiry:


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