Value-Stream Improvement

An improvement method based on the scientific approach to problem solving known as plan-do-check-act (PDCA) or plan-do-study-adjust (PDSA) that brings together the scientific and cultural components needed to implement and sustain positive change in a specific value stream.

The PDCA approach corresponds to the three project phases of value-stream improvement. (1) Leadership defines the broad organizational need for a project, how the problem is affecting the organization, and sets the scope of the project. (2) In a workshop, usually lasting three days, value-stream stakeholders develop a current-state value-stream map, analyze the problems, and propose countermeasures in the form of a future-state map. (3) In the improvement phase, typically lasting 60 to 120 days, the team runs rapid learning experiments, implements changes to improve the value stream’s performance, then checks the results.  

In lean terminology, these changes are “countermeasures” because, unlike “solutions” that infer a permanent fix, a countermeasure encourages continuous improvement of the process.  This methodology also leads to the development of a system for managing the performance of the value stream, enabling true continuous improvement. (Adapted from Worth, et al, 2012, pp.3-4.)