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LEI’s new tool for seeing the big picture

Jim Womack
3/1/2002
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Value stream maps help us see our Current State so we can implement Future States with more flow, leveled pull, and less waste. We’re delighted that 85,000 members of the lean community have now used Mike Rother and John Shook’s “Learning to See” to map value streams within facilities.

Today we are taking the next step by expanding our field of view from the individual facility to the entire Value stream. We are launching the latest LEI workbook, “Seeing the Whole”, which provides a simple tool for mapping the extended Value stream for your product families. (It’s now in the LEI bookstore at www.lean.org.) 

We begin with a new set of icons for facilities, warehouses, cross docks, transport modes, and information management systems, and show how to draw a map from raw materials to the customer. In the process, you will learn how to count the actions on the product, ninety percent of which are muda, and how to summarize throughput time, 99.99 percent of which is wasted. You will also learn how to track “demand amplification” as customer signals are turned into noise as orders move upstream and how to portray the deterioration in product quality and delivery performance typical of most value streams moving back from the customer. 

Once you have an accurate Current-State map, drawn collectively by all the facilities and firms touching the Value stream, it’s time to introduce the first of several Future States. These can lead eventually to an Ideal State in which the Value stream is dramatically compressed to squeeze out most of the wasted time and effort plus the noise and errors in the Current State. 

We’re particularly excited about “Seeing the Whole” because we believe it will provide a language for everyone touching the Value stream to enter into a fact-based discussion about the Current State and jointly envision achievable Future States. In addition, the simple process of constructing Current-State and Future-State maps provides a great assessment of the performance of every department, facility and firm touching the product. 

We’re certain you will find “Seeing the Whole” a breakthrough tool in your war on muda, a tool that will give those teams with the courage to get started a continuing competitive advantage. We look forward to hearing about your experience as you learn to see the whole.

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