Quarterly Cycles for Value Stream Improvement: Visibility, Improvement, Acceleration
Quarterly Cycles for Value Stream Improvement: Visibility, Improvement, Acceleration

How do we get from where we are to better with Value Stream Mapping?

I saw an example recently showing how using a Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle can drive improvement by iterating from a current state to a future state, but what I always find missing from PDCA when it's mentioned is useful strategies for actually implementing the process. 

Sure, we'd all like to Plan, Do, Check, Act as everyone recommends but tactically, what is involved? How do we plan? What's the right way to do? What should we check? How should we act to improve?

Value Stream thinking can provide a framework for putting this process on autopilot and consistently leveling us up.

Let's look at the example graph above in simpler terms to break down the process by looking at each iteration step-by-step.

Baseline

Iteration 0 - Starting with Visibility
Iteration 0 - Starting with Visibility

We start with a current state assessment in the form of a Value Stream Map (VSM). Starting with a current state assessment, we can see: 

  • Our value stream performance baseline
  • Risks and opportunities

From there we can form a future state value stream map (detail coming soon!) to set our vision and align on a future state target.

Compared to a typical roadmap, our future state target is directly based on our current state, and focused on what we can confidently achieve. As a result, our odds of success are extremely high.

Progress

As we progress, we can see and share improvement
As we progress, we can see and share improvement

As we make progress towards the future state, we can adjust tactics. Our priorities will change as we remove blockers and bottlenecks highlighted in our current state map. We stay on track by taking intermittent measurements and adjusting as we go. To further increase value, we show and share these measurements to track improvement.

Iteration

At 3 months, we remeasure and adjust
At 3 months, we remeasure and adjust

 After a quarter, the team has made so much progress, we have new constraints to address. We can quickly create a new Value Stream Map to find our current issues and opportunities. Since we're familiar with the process, it goes much quicker. We're focused more on finding our next opportunity than understanding what's happening.

Improvement as a Habit

Continuous Improvement
Continuous Improvement

We continue to see and share continuous improvement in the value stream, and see steady progress. If we see challenges, bottlenecks or friction arise, we know where to look based on our continual awareness of the value stream (we'll dig into that further in a later post!).

Our team grows more and more confident. Leadership and other teams can always see progress and understand the needs of the team. New members joining the team can always see where they are needed and where the team's focus and challenges lie. Team members moving on can share clear learning with other teams based on the measurable results seen in their value stream.

Life is good!

Stay tuned for a post about how Capability Mapping can highlight and address gaps in team skills that can dramatically improve performance along with your Value Stream Map.

 

What do you find most challenging about performance improvement? I'd love to hear more about your plans and challenges on a video call - grab some time with me at meet.visible.is and let's talk value streams!