Home > Knowledge Center> Jim Womack's eLetters & Columns> An LEI New Year's Resolution: No Wallpaper!

An LEI New Year's Resolution: No Wallpaper!

Permalink   |   Post a Comment   |  

New Year's resolutions are a bit of a cliche so I've modified the tradition this year: I've made my resolution on your behalf! I've resolved that in 2002 no one in the lean community will turn their value stream maps into corporate wallpaper by failing to actually implement their Future States.

This resolve is not based on vague anxieties but on what I often see as I walk around the industrial world. I frequently find beautiful Current State maps on the wall next to equally beautiful Future State maps but ... no Future State in reality on the "gemba." (That's the Japanese word for the shop floor, whether the manufacturing floor or the engineering area or the order processing department -- any place that value streams should flow.)

Sometimes the Future State is only wallpaper because of a lack of technical knowledge: the team meant to install a leveled pull system to connect all of the areas of continuous flow but just couldn't make it work. Or the continuous flow cell only flows continuously when the high-priced help come around to see it, because the individual process steps are not capable and the work elements have never been properly analyzed.

But much more often the problem is simply that there is no effective management of each value stream. The maps were done by the process improvement group or the industrial engineers as a special project. But no one took responsibility as a day-to-day manager for actually implementing the Future State, stabilizing it, then treating it as the new Current State and calling for an even better Future State.

When I say "manager" I don't mean another layer of supervision but instead an individual, probably with another functional task, who clearly takes responsibility for the health of a specific value stream and periodically reports on the trend of improvement to plant managers and product line managers. One of the key items to report is how good a job the different departments -- assembly, paint, stamping -- and the different functions -- operations, P C & L, manufacturing engineering, quality, and purchasing -- are doing in supporting the value stream and how their behavior should change.

So ... please don't let me down on my new-fashioned New Year's resolution, and let us know at LEI how you are progressing.

0 Comments | Post a Comment
Other Jim Womack Related Content



  • The Power of Personal Yokoten
    Personal yokoten to teach new mindsets and attitudes is an activity all of us can perform out in the world every day with every manager, team leader, and team we touch, says Jim Womack. He believes we can transfer new, lean ideas about management and leadership in our civic roles and even in our families as we think through tough issues.
  • The Power of Yokoten
    I’ve written a lot about yokoten in recent years – the practice of spreading good (lean) ideas horizontally between and across organizations from their point of initial success (“Yoko” means in Japanese horizontal.) It turns out that this is hard, even for the methods and tools needed to create lean value streams. Lean requires practice, even when the theory is clear and simple, and it’s hard to find enough teachers with enough experience and time to lead the cycles of practice needed for sustainable yokoten.
  • How A Complete Lean Production System Fuels Global Success
    In this article prepared for the 2007 relaunch of the seminal book The Machine that Changed the World, co-author Jim Womack correctly forecast Toyota's rise, and identifes the key elements of a dynamic lean production system.