Learning to See: Value-Stream Mapping

By on October 14, 2014
Learning to See: Value-Stream Mapping

A Vital Step on the Lean Journey

As I’ve mentioned a number of times in previous blog commentaries Lean often fails. This failure is very costly. First, it denies the organization those significant gains in productivity and profitability that come with a successful Lean transformation. Second, failure creates cynicism and future attempts at a Lean transformation will be more difficult to achieve as a result of the false start.

Failure is also entirely preventable. What does it take to prevent failure? Paul Akers, CEO of FastCap, Inc. and a premier Lean practitioner, put it best, “To see waste as you’ve never seen it before is a game changer and you’ll understand, maybe for the first time, what Lean is all about.”

Over and over again, my years of experience as a Lean consultant have taught me that what Akers is saying is absolutely on target. If Lean is to take root in an organization, all employees need to see waste as they’ve never seen it before.

Mike Rother’s and John Shook’s book Learning to SeeAnd the most powerful process available to make waste visible is Value-Stream Mapping. Reflecting the absolutely vital nature of “seeing waste,” Mike Rother’s and John Shook’s Shingo Award winning book on value-stream mapping is entitled, Learning to See.

We have developed a series of six discussion and skill application sessions using this excellent guide as the focal point of our discussions. The primary purpose of the series is to give participants the ability and motivation to apply the skills reviewed in this book very effectively on the job. Participants have told us that the most valuable insight they gained as a result of their participation in this series of discussions is this: A keen awareness of the importance of understanding the interconnectedness of all of their organization’s work processes coupled with a clear understanding of the limitations of work process sub-optimization.

Participant responses to this program have been very positive. Comments such as the following have been made:

“Great seminar. Really enjoyed your teaching and presentation of Lean and Value Stream Mapping.”

“Thoroughly enjoyed this class.”

“Really good class. Thank you so much!”

I’d very much appreciate having the opportunity to meet with you to discuss this program’s potential to deliver real value in support of your Lean transformation. You know, Paul Akers really hits the nail on the head when he tells us that seeing waste is a game changer. Call me anytime at 314-303-0612 and let’s arrange a time to meet and discuss this game changer.

About George Friesen

George Friesen serves as Business Practice Leader - Lean Manufacturing for the Workforce Solutions Group of St. Louis Community College. He has led the College's Lean business practice area since 2000. Prior to joining the College, George worked for Maritz Performance Improvement Company. Over the past 35 years, he has served a wide variety of Fortune 500 companies, specializing during the past eleven years in Lean Manufacturing, focusing especially on the 5S System, Lean leadership and thinking processes, Value Stream Mapping, and Lean team building. George is a graduate of Washington University (AB), Webster University (MA), and United States Air Force Flight Training.

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