When undertaking large-scale change programs, we want to understand our existing end-to-end processes in order to indentify more efficient avenues to add customer value, or in other words eliminate waste. The Value Stream Map (VSM) is a decades-old lean-manufacturing technique that has been used by thousands of companies to fulfil this exact purpose. Especially in agile transformation programs, it doesn't take too long until the topic of VSMs start creeping to the surface.
But if we're all talking about VSMs, why aren't the outputs of the exercise sitting in a framed poster inside every boardroom or meeting hub? I believe the answer is simple; traditional Value Stream Maps are really difficult to interpret.Without a detailed workshop or instruction manual they don't hold much conveyance to the end user.
So what if we took these confusing outputs and repurposed them to make them much easier to interpret? By using the metaphor of 'flow', which is a key principle of lean manufacturing to begin with, and extending it to represent a pipeline of customer value, it should be much easier to highlight the current state of an organisation's processes and where the opportunities for improvement lie.