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Where is the Value Stream?

Inside Out: The Power of Clarity
Where is the Value Stream?
By Steve Pereira & Andrew Davis • Issue #9 • View online
Whenever there is a product for the customer, there is a value stream. The challenge lies in seeing it. - Learning to See. Value Stream Mapping to Create Value and Eliminate Muda by Mike Rother and John Shook

Getting Clear
Your organization is a network of value streams. Customers get value from your products and services because work is delivered to them by functioning value streams.
We often think of these value streams in different terms; processes, systems, pipelines, workflows. Why call them value streams if we already have names for what’s happening in the company? Why use a common term at all?
The value in the term value stream is the clarity embedded within it. Value is defined by customers, therefore you can’t think about value streams without considering customers. Streams require flow by their very nature, so flow has to be a primary consideration. Processes, systems, pipelines, and workflows can all be considered without a connection to customers, outcomes, or value. Whenever possible, it helps to use language that speaks to the most important aspect of what it represents, and lowers the odds of misunderstanding. So, despite value streams being historically associated with manufacturing physical products, it’s still an excellent term to describe continuous delivery of value to customers.
How do we find the stream?
The hint is in the quote at the top. Identifying the customer identifies the stream. We can work backwards from any customer to identify a value stream by asking:
How does this customer get value?
By working backwards from delivered value, we can identify the activities that contribute to the creation and delivery of value all the way back to the first.
We can then visualize a network of value streams by tracing each stream to other streams it depends on. Program management depends on budget, so as a customer of the financial approval stream, we can see the two streams connect. Finance depends on sales activity, so they act as an internal customer of sales results, metrics and projections.
By treating our organizations as value stream networks, we can begin to understand the systematic effects of upstream and downstream changes, holistic flow, and the interdependence of every contribution to value delivery. In short, the organization becomes an interconnected web of value delivery, where everyone must play their part to maximize performance. Luckily, with the advent of sophisticated value stream management technology we can begin to see this network, and improve it.
What We're Finding Valuable
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In the Flow
Value Stream Identification - Lessons from the wild
Value Stream Identification - Lessons from the wild
Thank you for reading!
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Steve Pereira & Andrew Davis

To solve big problems, we need to go back to basics. Our effectiveness depends on gaining clarity, creating value, and finding flow. Society and technology are changing quickly, but at every scale these three considerations are timeless keys to success. We look at maximizing improvement ROI, how the best teams work, and how individuals can find meaning and purpose in their work.

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