Author Karen Martin appearing in August to talk ‘leadership imperative’ for value-stream mapping

Even the best organizations don’t see outside their four walls sometimes, and those in search of the big picture often turn to value-stream mapping.

As a tool in the lean transformation arsenal, value-stream mapping is a tried-and-true approach to finding bottlenecks, redundancies and other problems in the product or service’s journey to the end customer. What far too few companies realize, however, is that value-stream mapping can be a great catalyst for changing leadership behavior to support and sustain a lean culture.

Karen Martin
Karen Martin

So once the value-stream mapping skills are learned, how can companies make that crucial leap to leverage them for transforming leadership thinking? COE is thrilled to welcome award-winning author and renowned speaker Karen Martin to campus on Friday, Aug. 15, to share her perspective on how it’s done in an exclusive members-only event.

Karen leads The Karen Martin Group Inc., which has been working with organizations to achieve both large-scale business transformation and more process improvement for more than 20 years and has specialized in lean management practices since 2000. Most recently, Martin is the co-author of Value Stream Mapping, the book she’ll be presenting on in August that lean turnaround legend Art Byrne has called “the new bible for value stream mapping.”

A scientist by trade, she began her work in quality and process improvement by serving as director of quality improvement for a large health-care management organization and director of San Diego State University’s Institute for Quality and Productivity. A sought-after speaker and consultant, Karen is the author of The Outstanding Organization, winner of the prestigious Shingo Research and Professional Publication Award, and has co-authored The Kaizen Event Planner and Metrics-Based Process Mapping: An Excel-Based Solution.

Karen is speaking from 10 a.m. to noon in Pfahl Hall at the Fisher College of Business as part of the school’s annual reunion of students in the Master of Business Operational Excellence program. COE members who attend the event will get a chance to network with alums of the one-year master’s program and, in a post-presentation event co-hosted by Barnes & Noble, purchase Value Stream Mapping and/or The Outstanding Organization and stick around for a signing.

Seating is limited, so be sure to register now!

MBOE recap: Lessons from the pharmacy

Value stream mapping has been widely used in the manufacturing industry to understand flow. Our MBOE students learned how value stream mapping can be effectively used in a pharmacy setting using a case based on Giant Eagle’s pharmacy, authored by Gary Butler, pictured.

One of the many things that the case addresses is the question that commonly comes up when mapping a value stream in a service industry: Variation in how customers come in. There are peak periods and then there are low periods.

How do you then calculate the demand and takt time? When you draw the current state value stream map, it’s not surprising to see multiple takt times: Shorter during busy times of the day and longer during the slower periods.

In health-care settings it’s very common to have multiple people with varying skills performing various tasks in the process. A value stream can give you the metrics to calculate their utilization, which can help you understand how to allocate resources so that every resource can spend their time on only those activities based on their expertise that add value to their customers.

MBOE recap: The cold, harsh reality of the value stream map

Google “value stream map” and you’ll get about 5 million hits. You can read as much as you want on it, but the only way to truly learn is by doing one – and in my experience, you learn more with each new map. Learning to See, co-authored by lean guru John Shook, gave our MBOE students this past week a prime on the value stream map, and in class, they learned much more about the five components to one: Customer, Supplier, Process Steps, Process Metrics and Information Flow.

So why should one care about mapping a value stream? For starters, it helps you answer a ton of questions about what you do day in and day out. Just a sample:

  • Are you producing to takt (customer demand), creating more than is needed or you are so slow?
  • How are you balancing supply with demand?
  • Do you have too many, too few or just the right amount of people doing the work?
  • Are there wastes in the process?
  • Are people undergoing unnecessary movements to get materials or information to do the work?
  • How do all the steps communicate with each other?

A value stream map gives you a snapshot of your process in a given time period. It tells you how much of the process you are studying is actually value adding. It might be shocking for someone mapping the first time to find out that more than 90% of the work they do is non-value added.

Here’s an example of that: Executive in Residence Gary Butler this past week told of his first encounter with MBOE Sensei Paul Kerry, a coach in our program. Kerry asked Butler and his executive team to tell him about their expenses, and Butler explained it by making the drawing above.

Kerry turned around and drew what he said was the reality of the business, which you’ll see below. A value stream map gives you a new lens through which you can look at your business. And what you see isn’t always pretty.