Posted by: productivityinc | August 9, 2012

Understanding The Stream

I was recently doing some consulting work for a client.  While in their facility, they showed me an improvement project they had just completed.  They were very proud of the project and outlined for me how they planned the effort and then dedicated the needed resources to ensure a successful deployment.  They walked me through their process, showed me the milestone charts (which indicated they hit most all of their improvement targets along the way) and explained that the outcome was exactly what they intended.  From all accounts it was a big success…right?  Well, not exactly.

As I started to ask questions about the project, I discovered (and so did the team) that they were using a pull system to connect their process when they actually had the opportunity to achieve continuous flow instead. Sure pull is better than push but flow is even better! The old saying is true… If you didn’t draw it (the value stream) you probably don’t fully understand it (the real nature of improvement that is possible.)

So, remember, trying to improve outside of the context of a deep knowledge of the value stream is risky. You may be missing opportunities or worse, adding waste.

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