Value Stream Mapping

Value Stream Mapping


Karen Marting & Mike Osterling



The book presents a comprehensive yet straightforward exploration of value stream mapping. Its concise and practical approach makes it an excellent resource for beginners. The author skilfully introduces the concept without going too deep into lean methodology, which makes the content easily digestible and applicable. This book can give you a strong fundamental understanding of value stream mapping.

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Key Takeaways

The 20% that gave me 80% of the value.

Value stream mapping is helpful for product managers looking to optimise a product development process and deliver value to customers more efficiently. At its core, value stream mapping is a team-based, holistic, and visual methodology for deeply understanding how work gets done and designing an improved future state. It helps you see and resolve disconnects, redundancies, and gaps in your process by visualising complex work systems, connecting every function to the customer, and facilitating better collaboration and decision-making.

To get started with value stream mapping, you'll need to go through three main phases: preparation, mapping, and transformation. During the preparation phase (about 4 weeks), you'll develop a charter, gain leadership support, form a team, collect data, and prepare for transformation. The mapping phase (3 days) is where you'll dive deep into understanding the current state of your process, plan the future state, and develop a transformation plan. Finally, the transformation phase is where you'll execute changes based on the nature of the improvements identified.

When mapping the current state, walk the value stream with your team, observing and talking to workers in their environment. Map the process blocks in sequence, noting who does what and in what order. Gather key metrics for each process, such as Process Time, Lead Time, and Percent Complete and Accurate (%C&A). Identify barriers to flow, map information flow, and summarize metrics across all workstreams.

Designing the future state is all about focusing on delivering customer value while eliminating unnecessary expenses, delays, and quality issues. Remove unnecessary tasks and handoffs, and consider adding processes or steps that benefit the entire value stream. Create flow by minimizing delays and waste, using lean tools like parallel processing, task combining, and work re-sequencing. Establish Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to monitor value stream performance, and be bold in making changes to achieve target metrics and improve performance. Use a PACE chart to prioritize improvement ideas based on execution ease and anticipated benefit, and document the future state value stream map, calculating summary metrics to gauge projected improvements.

To ensure a successful transformation, create a detailed plan that includes measurable targets, proposed countermeasures, and execution methods (Just-Do-Its, Kaizen Events, Projects). Appoint a value stream champion to drive change and provide regular updates to leadership, and conduct regular plan reviews to maintain accountability and ensure progress. Secure buy-in from leadership and outline necessary resources during a final briefing.

Achieving the transformation requires tying value stream improvement to business needs, organisational goals, and priorities, with support from leadership. Socialise the maps and transformation plan to reduce resistance to change and promote understanding. Execute improvements using a Plan-Do-Study-Adjust (PDSA) cycle, adjusting the plan as needed based on evidence. Hold regular transformation plan reviews to track progress, address obstacles, and course-correct. Appoint a value stream manager to continuously monitor performance and facilitate problem-solving, and engage in value stream-level improvement activities at least once a year for each key value stream.

By embracing value stream mapping, product managers can align teams, visualise issues, prioritise improvements, and ultimately deliver greater value to customers more efficiently.


Deep Summary

Longer form notes, typically condensed, reworded and de-duplicated.


  • Value stream mapping is a way to see and resolve disconnects, redundancies and gaps in how work gets done
  • its a team-based methodology
  • Learning to See (the first book on VSM) - 1999
  • The complete lean enterprise - focused on office environments
  • VSM is a holistic and visual way to deeply understand how work gets done nad to design an improved future state
  • Book recommendations:
    • 1988 - The Triumph of Lean Manufacturing (Origin of Lean)
    • 1990 - The Machine that Changed the World - (Origin of Value Stream Map)
    • 1996 - Lean Thinking (Popularised Value Stream Mapping - 5 principles of lean)
    • 1999 - Learning to See (First Value Stream Mapping Book)
    • 2004 - The Complete Lean Enterprise (Value Stream Mapping book focused on office work)
    • 2004 - The Toyota Way - (14 management principles of Toyota)

Value Stream Management

  • In most organisations, no one person can describe the complete series of events required to create value.
  • This is a problem, improvements in one area might hinder another. Effort put into process improvements might not benefit the customer. You might have conflicting priorities, interdepartmental tension and infighting within leadership.
  • Not understanding about how work flows across a system to deliver value to a customer is a problem that results in poor performance, decisions and work environments.
  • A value stream is the sequence of activities an organisation undertakes to deliver on a customer request.
  • A value stream is the sequence activities required to design, produce, and deliver a good or service to a customer (includes information and material flows).
  • Value streams are cross-functional: flowing through many departments.
  • Value streams can include work done by outside parties and even customers.
  • Often value stream maps are focused on providing value to a customer. You can also use them for value-enabling or value-supporting services (like recruiting). You can break them up into value stream segments.
  • As value streams could go on and on forever, one of the first things you’ll do is define the scope, the beginning and end for review. This depends on the problems you need to address or the improvements you want to make.
  • Whenever there is a request and a deliverable there is a value stream.
  • Small organisations might only have one customer-facing value stream, bigger ones might have 10 or more product families, with hundreds of support value streams.
  • Value Stream Mapping helps you visualise complex work systems so you can address the disconnects, redundancies and gaps in how work gets done.
  • Value stream maps offer a holistic view of how work flows through entire systems.
  • Why Value stream maps are great vs process mapping:
    • Provides strategic direction for improvements, as you stay zoomed out.
    • Enhances understanding of work systems which creates common ground for decision-making.
    • Quicker to complete than process mapping.
    • Facilitates data-driven, strategic decisions.
    • Reflects customer-experienced workflow, prompting questions about aligning to customer value.
  • Benefits of Value Stream Mapping:
    • Visualising work (particularly non-visible work) provides clarity around how work gets done.
    • Creates a connection to the customer from every function. Shifting focus from inward company goals to customer-value.
    • Seeing the interconnectedness of departments and processes leads to better collaboration and decisions making. Helping you move from local to global optimisation.
    • Simplification aids decision making, seeing only what is important.
    • Practical means to drive continuous improvement.
    • An effective means to orient new hires
  • Common failings of value stream mapping:
    • Using maps only as a work design exercise
    • Creating maps but taking no action
    • Not involving the right people
    • Creating maps with no metrics (they bring an understanding of time and quality)

Setting the Stage and Enabling Success

  • Value stream mapping involves three phases: preparation, mapping and transformation.
    • Preparation takes 4 weeks and involves developing a charter, getting leadership support, forming a team, collecting data and preparing for transformation.
    • Mapping takes just 3 days, to understand the current state, plan the future state and develop a transformation plan. Mapping results in three deliverables: a current state value stream map, a future state value stream map and a transformation plan.
    • Transformation executions will vary depending on the nature of the changes.
  • Give relevant executives an overview of value stream mapping before you start, make it clear what you need from them (e.g. daily briefings).
  • Creating a charter for the value stream mapping helps plan, communicate, align and build consensus.

Value Stream Mapping Charter: Key Components

  • Agreeing Scope:
    • Value Stream: clearly define the value stream being improved.
    • Specific Conditions: what should be included/excluded (customer type, location, etc.)
    • Demand Rate: the frequency of process execution
    • Trigger: what initiates the process
    • First step: what’s the first step in the process
    • Last step: what’s the last step in the process
    • Boundaries & limitations: areas the team is NOT authorised to change
    • Improvement timeframe: (typically 3-6 months).
  • Agreeing Accountability:
    • Executive sponsor: Required, typically VP or C-level
    • Value stream champion: If needed, often director or manager level
    • Facilitator: Required, skilled objective person leading the activity
    • Logistics coordinator: Optional, but can be helpful
  • Key Logistics:
    • Locations, dates, timings, briefing checkpoints, time commitments, catering etc.
  • Current State Problems & Business Needs:
    • List 1-5 key issues driving the need for improvement
  • Measurable Target Condition:
    • Define specific metrics to reduce or increase by a certain percentage
  • Benefits:
    • List 1-5 key benefits for customers
    • List 1-5 key benefits for the business
  • Mapping Team:
    • Agree who from each function/department will join the mapping team (and who’ll be on-call to support.
    • Limit the mapping team to 10 people.
  • Socialise the charter with affected leadership, the mapping team members and thee workers in the areas that will be included in the value stream.
  • Source the relevant data (think demand forecasts for the next 24 months, service levels, lead times, productivity).
  • Walk through the value stream ahead of time, so you know roughly how much ground you’ll have to cover.

Understanding The Current State

  • The current state value stream map can help you transform a business faster, as it contributes to shared understanding of how things are done today and what problems there are.
  • The map visually represents a snapshot of work flows, the workers involved, and the performance of the value stream on its creation day.
    • Everyone will tell you today is ‘not normal’
    • If the value stream does have high variation in key aspects, make a note of it.


  • Run through the charter with the mapping team (not for debate at this stage)
  • Set rules of engagement (e.g. workshop basics)
  • Provide a quick overview of value stream mapping.
  • Start mapping as quickly as possible (usually on a larger paper roll with physical post-its).
  • Walk the value stream together (going to the Gemba: the real place) from the customer backwards, to see and talk to workers in their environment. View it with outside eyes. Prep workers in advance and encourage them to speak freely. Doing it twice in the day allows the team to learn more deeply. Be humble and curious. Don’t jump to conclusions you’re there to learn and observe.
  • Map layout: Start with what is done, who does it and in what order.
    • Place the customer in the centre at the top
      • If a supplier is involved, place the customer in the top right and the supplier in the top left
    • Agree on the process blocks that will form the value stream. Aim for 5-15. Too many is hard to manage, too few it becomes meaningless.
      • Flow is present when work moves from one process to the next without interruption or delay. Usually you’ll start a new process block each time work stops flowing (there’s a handoff).
      • Arrange them in sequence and number them
      • Write a concise description of the activities in each process block (in verb + noun format) and the functions that perform them. Place them in sequence.
    • Each product should have it’s own value stream, so you don’t need a decision tree. If there’s some variation just map what happens 80% of the time.
    • A parallel process is when the output from one process is passed to two or more functions and worked on concurrently, in that case stack the post-its above one another in the same vertical plane.
    • Use the second walk to understand the key metrics of each process (aim for accuracy not precision):
      • Process Time (aka touch time, work time and task time): the time it takes people to complete the process tasks to transform the input to the output. Includes any talk time that’s required to gather information needed. Does not include wait times.
      • Lead time (aka throughput time, response time, turnaround time): the time elapsed from the moment the work is made available to an individual until it has been completed and made available to the next.
      • Percent Complete and Accurate (%C&A): the quality of each process’s output. You obtain the %C&A by asking downstream customers what percentage of the time they receive work that’s usable as is.
    • Understanding Flow and Barriers to Flow:
      • Batching. Batch size: holding work until a specific number of items have accumulated. Batch frequency: performing an activity at a specific time of day, week or month.
      • System downtime or suboptimal performance.
      • Shared resources or inaccessible staff.
      • Switching tasks or interruptions.
      • Prioritisation rules (formal or informal) can differ and conflict causing barriers to flow.
      • Work in progress (the accumulation of work between or within processes). Occurs in three places.
        • work that’s in queue but hasn’t been started yet
        • work that’s being processed but hasn’t been completed
        • work that’s been completed but hasn’t been passed onto the next process
        • the oldest item in the queue
      • Number of people who perform the work described on the post-it
      • Number of people trained to do the work
      • Number of hours worked (shift times)
      • Process effectiveness (e.g. how many RFPs convert into actual customer orders)
      • Work volume or demand rate at each process (e.g. 500 a month)
      • Work trigger: How is the work pushed to or pulled by the people / process
    • Add all of the information back onto the map.
      • The Process Time (PT), Lead Time (LT) and percent complete and accurate are added to the map.
      • Accumulated work in progress (WIP) is added to the left of the process block
      • Arrows indicate if the work is pushed or pulled from each process
    • Map information flow to understand the systems and applications that support or inhibit work flow
      • Identify the systems and applications each process interfaces with.
      • Connect them with arrows:
        • arrows shows information flow
        • use a lightning bolt arrow when the flow is automatic
    • Add a timeline below
      • Express time in business hours and business days (24 hrs = 3 business days)
      • With parallel processes, the process times and lead times for only one of the post-its or series of post-its is brought down to the timeline
      • You can also compare and contrast the lead-time for each process.
    • Summarise the metrics across all the workstreams (how to do the calculations):
      • Total Lead Time (Total LT) the total time it takes to deliver on a customer request.
      • Total Process Time (Total PT) the total work effort required by all functions on the timeline critical path.
      • Activity Ration (AR) the degree of flow in the value stream
      • Activity Ratio (AR)=(Total Lead TimeTotal Process Time)×100Activity Ratio (AR)=(Total Lead TimeTotal Process Time)×100
      • Rolled Percent Complete and Accurate (Rolled %C&A): the compounded effect of the quality of output across the value stream:
      • (%C&A1)×(%C&A2)×(%C&A3)×(%C&A4)×100=Rolled %C&A(\%C\&A_1) \times (\%C\&A_2) \times (\%C\&A_3) \times (\%C\&A_4) \times 100 = \text{Rolled \%C\&A}
      • Total Labor Process Time: the collective work effort required by all functions involved in the value stream and is used to calculate capacity gains due to reduced process time in the future state design.
      • Total Labor Effort: the total human effort (annualized) that's required to perform the work within the scope of the value stream being mapped. It's calculated by multiplying the total labor process time by the number of times the value stream processes customer requests each year. Expressed in equivalent number of FTEs (full-time equivalents) needed to operate the value stream.
      • Total Process Time per Occurrence (in hours)×# Occurrences per Year# Available Work Hours per Employee per Year=#FTEs\frac{\text{Total Process Time per Occurrence (in hours)} \times \text{\# Occurrences per Year}}{\text{\# Available Work Hours per Employee per Year}} = \text{\#FTEs}
      • To determine available work hours, begin with the number of paid hours per year
  • Prepare a table to display the key summary metrics for the current state and, later, the projected metrics for the future state design.
Current State
Projected Future State
Projected % Improvement
Total Lead Time
9.5 days
Total Process Time
180 minutes
Activity Ratio
Rolled % Complete & Accurate
User defined
User defined
  • The standard summary metrics give insight into value stream performance, BUT include metrics you think might be helpful.
  • Common process findings
    • Loopbacks
    • Unnecessary handoffs
    • Rework due to errors and lack of clarity
    • Batching
    • Functions missing or getting involved too early or too late in the process
    • Redundant activities
    • High variation in how work is performed
    • No documented standard work
    • Excessive inspection (review, approval, audits)
    • Overspecialisation of staff
    • Existing technology not fully leveraged
    • Underutilisation of skills
    • Compliance overkill
    • Delays due to juggling multiple responsibilities
    • Push and overburden

Designing The Future State

  • The future is infinite and there are many ways to achieve the same end, there is no single "right" future state.
  • The fact there isn’t a perfect map should give beginning mappers solace.
  • Shift the mindset from one of fact-finding and discovery to one of innovation and creativity.
  • It would make no sense to spend valuable time and resources improving a value stream that delivers a product your customers don’t want (so make sure you’re clear on that before you start any of this).
  • A common misunderstandings is that Lean is all about creating flow. The nuance being making the “wrong work” flow isn’t a wise use of time and resources.
  • Optimal performance is delivering customer value in a way in which the organisation incurs no unnecessary expense. The work should be designed to eliminate delays, improve quality, and reduce unnecessary cost, labor, effort, and frustration.
  • The Lean community focuses on adding value through the elimination of waste (muda), unevenness (mura), and overburden (muri). There are eight categories of waste:
    1. Overproduction
    2. Overprocessing
    3. Errors
    4. Inventory
    5. Waiting
    6. Transportation
    7. Motion
    8. Underutilisation of people (in terms of experience, knowledge, skills, and creativity)
  • Eliminating waste can involve removing or adding work. Sometimes, adding an activity can benefit the entire value stream. Achieving optimal performance might require departments to take on more work or personnel, redistribute authority, or even give up some tasks or resources. This process requires team members who are willing to take a big picture view.
  • Removing Processes and Process Steps
    • Removing unnecessary tasks from a value stream reduces operational costs and should be prioritised, avoid attacking necessary tasks or value-adding activities.
    • The elimination of tasks should also consider the underlying need for that task and aim to remove that need.
    • Reducing handoffs and cross-training staff can create a streamlined flow in the value stream.
    • IT systems and applications can be evaluated for efficiency, with the aim to utilise existing systems for greater productivity.
    • Reducing process time often frees up human capacity, think about how you can use that bandwidth beneficially before jumping to layoffs.
  • Adding Processes and Process Steps
    • If the overall process time and lead time are reduced and the customer experience has improved, the value stream design phase has been successful—even if the time and effort required within a particular department increases.
    • Until holistic thinking begins to replace siloed thinking, improving a value stream will prove more challenging.
    • For a limited period of time you might want to add an inspection to prevent errors from reaching customers.
      • Inspection is clearly non-value-adding, but can be required if the quality hasn’t reached the right levels. Focus on eliminating the need for inspection rather than the inspection itself.
    • Be careful that you don’t add more work to a bottleneck process.
    • Adding processes to a value stream may require companion upstream or downstream improvements in order to improve overall performance.
    • Maximum results through minimum effort.
    • Be bold in its thinking and keep only those processes that are truly value-adding or absolutely necessary for the business to function. All else is waste.
  • Making flow work
    • Focus on making the "right work" flow across the value stream efficiently, minimizing delays and waste.
    • Identify barriers preventing lead time from matching process time. Dig deep to uncover root causes.
    • Intentionally create flow so work moves seamlessly between people without delays or issues.
    • Use baseline value stream metrics to drive aggressive improvement within the transformation timeline and organisational constraints.
    • Ideally, future state design should reduce LT and PT while increasing %C&A for each process block, but at minimum, total LT, PT, and %C&A should be significantly improved for the entire value stream.
    • LT reductions often exceed PT reductions.
    • You can help achieve flow through lean tools: parallel processing, task combining, work re-sequencing, internal service-level agreements, etc.
  • Managing the work
    • During future state design, consider:
      1. How to determine if the value stream is performing as intended
      2. Who will monitor and manage value stream performance
    • There is often a lack of robust systems and measures for transformation requirements, which can lead to failure.
    • Each value stream requires 2-5 Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that are regularly tracked and tailored to the value stream and desired target conditions.
    • Common KPIs include quality, cost, delivery (speed & customer service), safety, morale, and unique financial, customer, supplier, workforce, and compliance-related measures.
    • Care should be taken when choosing KPIs to best reflect the overall performance of the value stream.
    • Many processes within the value stream also need their own set of 2-5 KPIs.
  • The team must remember that significant, bold changes are needed to achieve target metrics and improve performance, not just minor adjustments.
  • Future State Design Kickoff:
    • Review the charter - remind the team of the target condition
    • Review the current state findings - review ideas from workers gathered on the floor
    • Introduce relevant counter measures -
      • Lean methods: standardising work, building quality in at the source, installing visual management, pull systems, batch reduction, level loading, work balancing to takt time, cells and colocation, work segmentation, cross-training, automation etc.
      • Don’t pursue advance techniques before the noise is removed and you’ve got the basics in place.
    • Create the future state value stream map
      • Place a new blank below the old one. For office value streams, start at the beginning. For pull manufacturing, start at the end.
      • The team should organically create the map, if not design questions can help.

        General Questions

        • What are the business issues (service quality, product quality, speed, capacity, cost, morale, competitive landscape, impending regulations, etc.) we wish to address?
        • What does the customer want?
        • What measurable target condition(s) are we aiming for?
        • Which process blocks add value or are necessary non-value-adding?
        • How can we reduce delays between processes?
        • How can we improve the quality of incoming work at each process?
        • How can we reduce work effort and other expenses across the value stream?
        • How can we create a more effective value stream (greater value to customers, better supplier relationships, higher sales conversion rates, better estimates-to-actuals, lower legal and compliance risk, etc.)?
        • How will we monitor value stream performance?

        Specific Questions

        Touch Points

        • Are there redundant or unnecessary processes that can be eliminated (e.g., excessive approvals)?
        • Are there redundant or unnecessary handoffs that can be eliminated or combined (e.g., work that can be done by a single department)?
        • Are there processes or handoffs that need to be added?


        • Is work being processed frequently enough? Can we reduce batch sizes or eliminate batching completely?
        • Do we have adequate coverage and available resources to accommodate existing and expected future workloads?
        • How can we create more capacity or reduce the load at the bottleneck?

        Sequencing and Pacing

        • Is the work sequenced and synchronised properly? Are processes being performed too early or too late in the value stream?
        • Are key stakeholders being engaged at the proper time?
        • Can processes be performed concurrently (in parallel)?
        • Would staggered starts improve flow?
        • How can we balance the workload to achieve greater flow (via combining or dividing processes)?
        • Do we need to consider segmenting the work by work type to achieve greater flow (with rotating but designated resources for defined periods of time)?

        Variation Management

        • Is there internally produced variation (e.g., end-of-quarter sales incentives)?
        • How can we level incoming workload along the value stream to reduce variation and achieve greater flow?
        • Can we reduce variation in customer or internal requirements? How can necessary variation be addressed most effectively?
        • Are there common prioritisation rules in place throughout the value stream?


        • Is redundant or unnecessary technology involved?
        • Is the available technology fully utilised?
        • Are the systems interconnected to optimise data movement?


        • How can higher-quality input be received by each process in the value stream (to improve the %C&A metric)?
        • Is there an opportunity to standardise and error proof work?

        Labor Effort

        • How can we eliminate unnecessary non-value-adding work?
        • How can we reduce the labor effort in necessary non-value-adding work?
        • How can we optimise value-adding work?

        Value Stream Management

        • Do policies need to be changed to enable improved performance?
        • Are there organisation departmental reporting structures that can be changed to reduce conflicting goals or align resources?
        • Do existing performance metrics (if any) encourage desired behaviours and discourage dysfunctional behaviour?
        • What key performance indicators (KPIs) will we use to monitor value stream performance?
        • Who will monitor the KPIs? How frequently? Who else will results be communicated to?
        • What visual systems can be created to aid in managing and monitoring the value stream?
        • Are the key processes within the value stream clearly defined with their own KPIs, standardised appropriately, and measured and improved regularly?
      • If too many ideas is your issue, you can plot each idea on a PACE chart. The axis are execution ease vs anticipated benefit, and then lines are drawn to create zones of Priority, Action, Consider or Eliminate.
      • Example
    • Laying out the future state value stream map
      • Follow the same process as mapping the current state, but you’re now using estimates.
      • Create a new timelines and calculate the summary metrics as before.
      Current State
      Projected Future State
      Projected % Improvement
      Total Lead Time
      9.5 days
      3.5 days
      Total Process Time
      180 minutes
      160 minutes
      Activity Ratio
      Rolled % Complete & Accurate
      User defined
      User defined
    • Note the improvements that need to be made to realise the improvements on the map in kaizen bursts (jagged speech bubbles).

Developing the Transformation plan

  • Elements of the Transformation Plan:
    • Value Stream Name, Accountable Parties, and Date Created
    • Scheduled Review Dates: Conduct regular review meetings to ensure progress; weekly for aggressive time frames or monthly for longer-term plans.
    • Future State Value Stream Map Block Numbers: Identify the process blocks that will be affected by the improvements.
    • Measurable Target: Define specific objectives related to countermeasures and hypothesise the anticipated results.
    • Proposed Countermeasures: List improvements from kaizen bursts on the future state map and how they will be executed.
  • Execution Methods:
    • Just-Do-Its: Quick wins that can be accomplished rapidly with minimal cross-functional involvement.
    • Kaizen Events: Planned events focusing on rapid improvements executed within two to five days, promoting PDCA thinking and process flow redesign.
    • Projects: More complex improvements managed under a more traditional project framework, possibly involving capital investment or technology modifications.
  • Encourage daily kaizen activities as a vital part of value stream transformation, tightly managed within defined time frames.
  • Appoint a sole accountable party, often the value stream champion, for driving change and providing regular updates to the executive sponsor and senior leadership team.
  • Regular plan reviews are crucial for maintaining accountability and ensuring progress, ideally by attending or monitoring transformation plan review meetings on a regular basis.
  • Keep the progress section of the plan updated and highly visual to easily track advancements and delays.
  • Use formal agreement methods when necessary to demonstrate commitment from leadership and ensure plan execution.
  • Conduct a final briefing to secure buy-in, addressing the need to reprioritize work, raise possible objections to the future state, and outline resources needed.
  • Caution against negotiating for shorter timelines than necessary, emphasizing the need to maintain communication with the gemba for real-world insights.
  • Designate a specific individual as the owner responsible for the execution, monitoring, and updates of the transformation plan.
  • Use visual tools to depict planned time frames for execution, keeping track of the start and end points of each improvement.

Achieving the Transformation

  • Executing improvement and sustaining the gains is often the toughest part of the improvement process.
  • Executing and sustaining change requires a different set of organisational behaviours than those required for planning.
  • Value stream improvement needs to be tied to business needs, organisational goals and priorities and supported by leadership.
  • Representation from all of the key functions is vital to gain the support of leaders in the areas that will be affected by the proposed changes.
  • Including leaders who can influence and authorise change reduces the amount of internal selling that has to be done afterwards.
  • Don’t become distracted before you’ve executed the transformation plan. You need leadership commitment and organisational focus.
  • Socialise the maps and the transformation plan for greater understanding and reduced resistance to change. People need to understand why change is needed and how the change will affect them.
    • Don’t just post it, you need to talk about it. Explain it. Let people ask questions. It's not only a necessary step in reducing resistance to change; it's a powerful learning opportunity for the entire organisationn.
  • Executing Improvements
    • The future state map is the blueprint for building the improved value stream. It provides a macro view for how work will flow in the future.
    • Don’t become fixed on your plan to a fault. Each countermeasure is a hypothesis (we think X will resolve Y) that needs to be proven and executed, or disproven and modified or eliminated.
    • You may need to adjust the original plan. Ignoring evidence along the way that your plan needs to be adjusted is a gross violation of the scientific method of problem solving.
    • Outstanding organisations possess the discipline to execute the plan as designed unless the “preponderance of the evidence” indicates that modification is needed.
    • The transformation plan provides initial direction, but it also reroutes you if you encounter a road construction, make a wrong turn, or decide to take a slightly different route.
    • Plan → Do → Study → Adjust
    • When executing the transformation plan, you’ve entered the “do” cycle of the macro PDSA cycle and the beginning of many nested micro PDSA cycles.
    • When possible use pilots so you can test, evaluate, and refine the improvement before rolling it out to the entire group. Pilots are experiments, and carefully planned experimentation is the foundation for robust continuous improvement.
  • Transformation Plan Reviews
    • The plan should include the dates on which a group review the progress and course correct as needed. This helps avoid distraction, confront real-time obstacles to success.
    • Frank discussions on progress, barriers that exist, and corrective action is needed.
    • Revise the plan and realign stakeholders as necessary.
    • As countermeasures see positive results, evaluate if it would be appropriate to start expanding any of the countermeasures to similar processes in different areas or to a broader set of conditions than what the mapping activity addressed.
    • Consider holding the transformation plan reviews at the gemba.
    • Topics include:
      • Tracking progress of countermeasures and adjusting if needed.
      • Identify or adopt new countermeasures as required.
      • Adapt transformation plan to new conditions if legitimate.
      • Monitor metrics to ensure target conditions are achieved.
      • Adjust scheduling or sequencing if off track.
      • Address any unintended consequences.
      • Ensure line owners are given enough time to focus.
      • Overcome resistance through learning and consensus.
      • Secure necessary resources for countermeasures.
      • Seek additional leadership support if needed.
    • Provide regular status updates to the original mapping team members not in attendance and leave others involved in the transformation and invite them to raise concerns, discuss their observations, and remain engaged in the transformation process.
  • Sustaining Improvements
    • Sustaining improvements can be surprisingly easy—if you plan well, involve the right people, build consensus, follow PDCA to the letter, and have a strong management system in place. Sustaining improvements begins with proper planning, followed by proper execution and management.
    • To sustain change you need someone formally designated to monitor the value stream performance and facilitate problem solving when issues arise. You also need key performance indicators to tell whether performance is on track or not.
    • Performance erosion is worse when no one person is responsible.
    • Appoint a value stream manager for continuously monitoring and leading improvement across the entire value stream.
    • In mature continuous improvement organisations, value stream managers are sometimes given responsibility for profit and loss across the value stream.
    • If your organisation isn’t ready to structure itself by value streams—on paper and in practice—you can begin with the practice part of it.
  • Continuous improvement
    • Value streams should be improved continuously. Continuous improvement is your only way out of a culture of reactive firefighting.
    • While strategy deployment and value stream mapping are strategic activities, the bulk of ongoing improvement is actually quite tactical.
    • Monitoring KPIs and empowering a skilled workforce to make tactical-level improvements will drive improvement.
    • Engage in value stream–level improvement activities at least once a year for each of your key value streams—and more frequently when possible.


  • Value stream mapping is a tool for aligning teams, visualising issues, and prioritising improvements.
  • It instills new ways of thinking and boosts performance levels.
  • It promotes habits like visiting the actual workplace, aligning improvements with business needs, and measuring performance using standard time and quality metrics.