Video: How to Read a Value Stream Map

Value Stream Mapping is a lean tool that's used a lot at the beginning of larger projects. Many books have been written on the subject, including the big one by LEI's John Shook: Learning to See

Value Stream Mapping shifts the improvement focus from shop level kaizen activities, to larger, game-changing projects. VSM accomplishes this by looking at the entire value stream; the process from start to finish.

Generally, after looking at a big picture of all the processes, it's clear that the entire value stream could be improved. Value stream mapping will highlight how your processes are linked, how long it takes, where the inventory is and how the information travels.

If your stream doesn't flow, there's little value.  

At the end of a value stream mapping session, you'll have a handy one page document, the map. Usually this one pager is quite large and may consist of many pages taped together to form one page, but the entire stream is represented on one diagram. This picture generally has some funny symbols and conventions, which may be difficult to interpret for the uninitiated. Naturally, a value stream map is the perfect tool to initiate the masses.

The embedded video below is a perfect starting point for understanding the basics of a Value Stream Map, namely, how to read it.  Baby steps. Before you can write, you need to learn to read!

The video explains how a typical VSM is written, with process flowing left to right and information traveling right to left. They do skip over the timing aspect on the bottom, which I feel is an important part of value stream mapping, but perhaps that is a lesson saved for the advanced class.

Thanks to João Francisco who posted this video on his blog. For a lean game featuring value stream mapping, check out The Pizza Game!

I've added this video to my growing list of free lean videos!


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