Friday, May 21, 2010

Value Stream Mapping Session Gone Awry

During one of our lean client engagements, we conducted half a dozen value stream mapping sessions with various groups and project teams from the client organization and this session was an interesting exercise. The session involved a large cross-functional team responsible for maintaining a very large-scale system and we wanted to get representatives involved from each stream / discipline (PM, BA, Dev, Test, Training, Architecture, Service Management, Infrastructure) to get the holistic picture. We ended up with a group of ~20 people and one of our facilitators (i.e. Jeff Anderson) decided to facilitate using a decentralized approach and handed out stickies to everyone and asked everyone to come to the wall and map out their specific processes in the value stream. This is what we ended up with:

Needless to say, I am having a "fun" time transcribing this into a visio diagram (we promised the client we would capture the value stream and give it back to them as a deliverable). Next time we have such a large group, I think I will use a different approach (lesson learned).


  1. I think the board correctly mapped to the actual process, and we got great participation which I thought was the point of the exercise, you mean we had to get actual data from it.


  2. They may want to see a visio diagram and on that front I feel your pain, but I think they get far more value out of seeing physical map. The real question have they gain insight? Do they make any real changes?

  3. Actually we did get very good insight out of the exercise, which to your point is why we are doing this, the actual visios are really a nice side effect. But transcribing them was still so painful...


  4. There is alot of value in allowing individuals to write down their thoughts.

    I use you would do it simultaneously. No need to do a visio. Linoit allows you to also semantically tag data so that it can be filtered and sorted in rather interesting ways.

    By the way, I think there is an image out on the net of an Autocad sticky session and the whole conference center was plastered.

  5. One approach that I have used successfully is to break a large group into smaller teams with each team focusing on a specific flow. It worked well when they picked a recent example to make things concrete.

  6. Sounds like your large group approach worked spectacularly well. You got good information. The fact that it's messy and too big for an electronic tool is an indication that it might actually match reality (and thus be useful).

    Don't let the electronic tool constrain you and keep you from learning (or, now, addressing the issues in your value stream)!

  7. Arlo,

    I'm glad you got the point of this post, which is to say that this was chaotic, but I think very successful, people were engaged, and talking, and actively discussing how to improve things...

    I thought the process was actually more important than the product...

  8. perhaps, your product is the process.