You have to see the data to use the data!

Value chains, value streams, and process maps require data and knowledge to create.  Regardless of the level of granularity none of these maps magically leap onto a sheet of paper in a final consumable state. Getting the data requires planning and …work.

  1. Gather a cross-functional team to generate the map.  Value chains will require participants with higher level and broader perspectives than process maps which require people that are closer to the work. The purpose of the study will typically be either process/cost improvement or innovation/differentiator focused (or some blend). The purpose will influence who you need as much as the type of map.
  2. As a team, go see the flow of work you are mapping. This step is often most critical when developing value streams and process maps but can be useful at the value chain level to drive home the systems level view need for delivering a product.   Use the same process for the observation that you would use for a Gemba walk. Always prepare! 
    • Establish the scope of the walk.
    • Generate a set of seed questions.
    • Remind, refresh, and coach the walk participants on appropriate walk behaviors.
  3. Build a draft of the map and review the flow.  Recognize that there can be multiple paths even if there were not observed.  Alternate paths can include the happy path (how things flow if everything goes smoothly), expedited paths (what do you do with emergencies) and the path when stuff hits the fan. Each of those paths become more apparent as the level of granularity becomes more detailed.
  4. Collect the relevant measurement data.  In earlier entries we defined a pallet of metrics that each map supports.  Which measures are needed depends on the purpose.
  5. Combine the map and measurement data.  Does the combination generate information that meets the purpose of the mapping exercise?  If not, reevaluate and decide whether the problem is focus (what you are studying), level of granularity (which type of map) or are you measuring the wrong thing.

This simple process is an approach for gathering the data needed to first draw a map and then to begin to use the map.


Next: Seed Questions Based on Purpose