Blog

Value Stream Mapping Font

by Jamie Flinchbaugh on 10-19-09

vsm_symbols.png

I ran across this over the weekend. I was shocked, but also saw how simple this could make working with simple value stream maps on your computer. It’s a font you can download that contains value stream mapping symbols. You can download it for free from Ambor.  

I generally don’t think that people should spend too much time trying to map on a computer. Doing this on a computer should either be reserved for (a) simple mapping exercises, (b) documentation in parallel to creating it on a wall, or (c) documentation after the fact for saving or broad distribution. Working on a value stream on a computer does take away some of the multiple person engagement in the process and I believe gets us further away from the real purpose of mapping.

I think we do it a disservice by calling it value stream mapping. The reason is that I see most organizations focus on the mapping. Building a map is not the point. Building a map is only a tool to help drive a conversation. The real goal is to build a common understanding of the current state. The value of this is so that we are aligned in making forward-looking discussions. When people focus on the map they make mistakes like trying to figure out what software to use or delegating map-building to the new intern that we don’t know how to keep busy. The map helps us gain high agreement of the current reality. That’s why we don’t teach value stream mapping, we teach value stream improvement.

Comments

  • You are so right – people think Lean is all about the analytical aspects, and it’s really more of a social change in the organization which spurs broad conversation and learning TOGETHER. Only in that posture are the analytical tools useful.

    Frode Odegard October 19, 2009 at 5:59 am
  • You are so right – people think Lean is all about the analytical aspects, and it’s really more of a social change in the organization which spurs broad conversation and learning TOGETHER. Only in that posture are the analytical tools useful.

    Frode Odegard October 19, 2009 at 5:59 am
  • You are so right – people think Lean is all about the analytical aspects, and it’s really more of a social change in the organization which spurs broad conversation and learning TOGETHER. Only in that posture are the analytical tools useful.

    Frode Odegard October 19, 2009 at 5:59 am
  • Jaime,
    You are correct that value stream mapping should be a real time tool to get the improvement conversation moving, however as a follow-up step to aid communication with management or with future teams an electronic version of the value stream map can be very useful.
    Shawne

    Shawne Van Deusen-Jeffries October 19, 2009 at 8:20 am
  • Jaime,
    You are correct that value stream mapping should be a real time tool to get the improvement conversation moving, however as a follow-up step to aid communication with management or with future teams an electronic version of the value stream map can be very useful.
    Shawne

    Shawne Van Deusen-Jeffries October 19, 2009 at 8:20 am
  • Jaime,
    You are correct that value stream mapping should be a real time tool to get the improvement conversation moving, however as a follow-up step to aid communication with management or with future teams an electronic version of the value stream map can be very useful.
    Shawne

    Shawne Van Deusen-Jeffries October 19, 2009 at 8:20 am
  • I used to resist any kind of electronic documentation but with as many teams that are globally distributed as there are, I have come around on that point. Electronic is valuable for preservation and communication. But it is a barrier when used for creation.

    Thanks for the comments.

    Jamie

    Jamie Flinchbaugh October 19, 2009 at 8:32 am
  • I used to resist any kind of electronic documentation but with as many teams that are globally distributed as there are, I have come around on that point. Electronic is valuable for preservation and communication. But it is a barrier when used for creation.

    Thanks for the comments.

    Jamie

    Jamie Flinchbaugh October 19, 2009 at 8:32 am
  • I used to resist any kind of electronic documentation but with as many teams that are globally distributed as there are, I have come around on that point. Electronic is valuable for preservation and communication. But it is a barrier when used for creation.

    Thanks for the comments.

    Jamie

    Jamie Flinchbaugh October 19, 2009 at 8:32 am
  • Since I’m getting some questions on it this morning, we offer a course called Lean Value Stream Improvement which starts November 9th. Check it out here: http://www.leanlearningcenter.com/education_services/curriculum__lean_value_stream_improvement.cfm

    Jamie

    Jamie Flinchbaugh October 19, 2009 at 8:58 am
  • Since I’m getting some questions on it this morning, we offer a course called Lean Value Stream Improvement which starts November 9th. Check it out here: http://www.leanlearningcenter.com/education_services/curriculum__lean_value_stream_improvement.cfm

    Jamie

    Jamie Flinchbaugh October 19, 2009 at 8:58 am
  • Since I’m getting some questions on it this morning, we offer a course called Lean Value Stream Improvement which starts November 9th. Check it out here: http://www.leanlearningcenter.com/education_services/curriculum__lean_value_stream_improvement.cfm

    Jamie

    Jamie Flinchbaugh October 19, 2009 at 8:58 am
  • Think outside the box for a completely different perspective on a value stream map. The downside of a value stream map:
    1 – static
    2 – doesn’t support complexity (HMLV with hundreds of products, hundreds of flow paths)
    3 – doesn’t reflect variation (in cycle times, demand, etc)

    As a result, the map gets used for opportunity identification only and then is ignored – often for months at at time – only to have to be done over again from scratch. Capturing it in an electronic tool only makes communication easier – doesn’t address any of these issues.

    What if the value stream map was dynamic? That allows the value stream map to be a quantitative model of the business. It must be easily updated as demand/mix change, as process improvements are made, etc. But then the model allows you to stay current on takt time, interval, line balance, kanban/supermarket sizing, etc. Add a simple what-if facility into it and you have a basis for solid, quantitative decision-making at the value stream level. For an example of what I mean, see http://www.futurestatesolutions.com

    Phil

    Phil Coy October 19, 2009 at 10:53 am
  • Think outside the box for a completely different perspective on a value stream map. The downside of a value stream map:
    1 – static
    2 – doesn’t support complexity (HMLV with hundreds of products, hundreds of flow paths)
    3 – doesn’t reflect variation (in cycle times, demand, etc)

    As a result, the map gets used for opportunity identification only and then is ignored – often for months at at time – only to have to be done over again from scratch. Capturing it in an electronic tool only makes communication easier – doesn’t address any of these issues.

    What if the value stream map was dynamic? That allows the value stream map to be a quantitative model of the business. It must be easily updated as demand/mix change, as process improvements are made, etc. But then the model allows you to stay current on takt time, interval, line balance, kanban/supermarket sizing, etc. Add a simple what-if facility into it and you have a basis for solid, quantitative decision-making at the value stream level. For an example of what I mean, see http://www.futurestatesolutions.com

    Phil

    Phil Coy October 19, 2009 at 10:53 am
  • Think outside the box for a completely different perspective on a value stream map. The downside of a value stream map:
    1 – static
    2 – doesn’t support complexity (HMLV with hundreds of products, hundreds of flow paths)
    3 – doesn’t reflect variation (in cycle times, demand, etc)

    As a result, the map gets used for opportunity identification only and then is ignored – often for months at at time – only to have to be done over again from scratch. Capturing it in an electronic tool only makes communication easier – doesn’t address any of these issues.

    What if the value stream map was dynamic? That allows the value stream map to be a quantitative model of the business. It must be easily updated as demand/mix change, as process improvements are made, etc. But then the model allows you to stay current on takt time, interval, line balance, kanban/supermarket sizing, etc. Add a simple what-if facility into it and you have a basis for solid, quantitative decision-making at the value stream level. For an example of what I mean, see http://www.futurestatesolutions.com

    Phil

    Phil Coy October 19, 2009 at 10:53 am
  • That’s a good advertisement. I don’t disagree that you need tools to do analytical work on your processes. However, those are not “downsides” of value stream mapping, those are “limitations.” There is a very big difference. A value stream map cannot do everything for you. And good analytics can’t either. Good analytics will rarely give you a good strategic view of where you need to go, although it will really help you probe for leverage points and test the what-if scenarios. It’s not an either or question as you seem to frame it. It is really about using the right tool for the right purpose. They all have their place, if used for the right purpose.

    Jamie

    Jamie Flinchbaugh October 19, 2009 at 11:25 am
  • That’s a good advertisement. I don’t disagree that you need tools to do analytical work on your processes. However, those are not “downsides” of value stream mapping, those are “limitations.” There is a very big difference. A value stream map cannot do everything for you. And good analytics can’t either. Good analytics will rarely give you a good strategic view of where you need to go, although it will really help you probe for leverage points and test the what-if scenarios. It’s not an either or question as you seem to frame it. It is really about using the right tool for the right purpose. They all have their place, if used for the right purpose.

    Jamie

    Jamie Flinchbaugh October 19, 2009 at 11:25 am
  • That’s a good advertisement. I don’t disagree that you need tools to do analytical work on your processes. However, those are not “downsides” of value stream mapping, those are “limitations.” There is a very big difference. A value stream map cannot do everything for you. And good analytics can’t either. Good analytics will rarely give you a good strategic view of where you need to go, although it will really help you probe for leverage points and test the what-if scenarios. It’s not an either or question as you seem to frame it. It is really about using the right tool for the right purpose. They all have their place, if used for the right purpose.

    Jamie

    Jamie Flinchbaugh October 19, 2009 at 11:25 am
  • I’ll believe “simple” and dynamic “what-if” when I see it.

    Value Stream methodology isn’t about real time, quantitative, decision support blah blah. It’s about identifying waste and creating vision for a new future state to implement. You can have your fancy software.

    Mark Graban October 19, 2009 at 7:58 pm
  • I’ll believe “simple” and dynamic “what-if” when I see it.

    Value Stream methodology isn’t about real time, quantitative, decision support blah blah. It’s about identifying waste and creating vision for a new future state to implement. You can have your fancy software.

    Mark Graban October 19, 2009 at 7:58 pm
  • I’ll believe “simple” and dynamic “what-if” when I see it.

    Value Stream methodology isn’t about real time, quantitative, decision support blah blah. It’s about identifying waste and creating vision for a new future state to implement. You can have your fancy software.

    Mark Graban October 19, 2009 at 7:58 pm
  • I agree with Mark that the purpose of value stream mapping is to understand the wastes in the current state well enough to design a future state that eliminates as much waste as possible.

    I believe that lean should be quantitative. I’m not sure Mark disagrees except perhaps in the extent of being quantitative in healthcare vs. in manufacturing.

    Data is a huge issue for the companies I’ve worked in – either with their enterprise systems or in a lean initiative. In my context of HMLV value streams with lots of change, getting quantitative means having to deal with a lot of data, generally too much to manage effectively on spreadsheets.

    I’m all for using the simplest tool possible that’s effective in the situation. That’s not always whiteboards and spreadsheets, sometimes software is a needed assist.

    Phil

    Phil Coy October 19, 2009 at 11:28 pm
  • I agree with Mark that the purpose of value stream mapping is to understand the wastes in the current state well enough to design a future state that eliminates as much waste as possible.

    I believe that lean should be quantitative. I’m not sure Mark disagrees except perhaps in the extent of being quantitative in healthcare vs. in manufacturing.

    Data is a huge issue for the companies I’ve worked in – either with their enterprise systems or in a lean initiative. In my context of HMLV value streams with lots of change, getting quantitative means having to deal with a lot of data, generally too much to manage effectively on spreadsheets.

    I’m all for using the simplest tool possible that’s effective in the situation. That’s not always whiteboards and spreadsheets, sometimes software is a needed assist.

    Phil

    Phil Coy October 19, 2009 at 11:28 pm
  • I agree with Mark that the purpose of value stream mapping is to understand the wastes in the current state well enough to design a future state that eliminates as much waste as possible.

    I believe that lean should be quantitative. I’m not sure Mark disagrees except perhaps in the extent of being quantitative in healthcare vs. in manufacturing.

    Data is a huge issue for the companies I’ve worked in – either with their enterprise systems or in a lean initiative. In my context of HMLV value streams with lots of change, getting quantitative means having to deal with a lot of data, generally too much to manage effectively on spreadsheets.

    I’m all for using the simplest tool possible that’s effective in the situation. That’s not always whiteboards and spreadsheets, sometimes software is a needed assist.

    Phil

    Phil Coy October 19, 2009 at 11:28 pm
  • I wish Taiichi Ohno was alive today. He would have had a hearty laugh over all the pain that companies take in creating the so called value stream maps.

    Using the same terminologies of lean, what is the value adding part in value stream mapping?

    -Harish

    Harish October 20, 2009 at 7:39 am
  • I wish Taiichi Ohno was alive today. He would have had a hearty laugh over all the pain that companies take in creating the so called value stream maps.

    Using the same terminologies of lean, what is the value adding part in value stream mapping?

    -Harish

    Harish October 20, 2009 at 7:39 am
  • I wish Taiichi Ohno was alive today. He would have had a hearty laugh over all the pain that companies take in creating the so called value stream maps.

    Using the same terminologies of lean, what is the value adding part in value stream mapping?

    -Harish

    Harish October 20, 2009 at 7:39 am
  • I agree, Phil, that data is helpful (quoting Ohno gratuitously, “facts are better”).

    Value stream maps should include data. I’m not advocating that data be turned into complex simulations and “what-if” modeling, etc. These are different issues altogether.

    Mark Graban October 20, 2009 at 10:13 am
  • I agree, Phil, that data is helpful (quoting Ohno gratuitously, “facts are better”).

    Value stream maps should include data. I’m not advocating that data be turned into complex simulations and “what-if” modeling, etc. These are different issues altogether.

    Mark Graban October 20, 2009 at 10:13 am
  • I agree, Phil, that data is helpful (quoting Ohno gratuitously, “facts are better”).

    Value stream maps should include data. I’m not advocating that data be turned into complex simulations and “what-if” modeling, etc. These are different issues altogether.

    Mark Graban October 20, 2009 at 10:13 am