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The Lean Process: Step Two Identify Value Stream

In the last article we explored the first step in the Lean Process which focused on identifying and specifying the customer’s desire. My hope is that you took some time to explore that concept and start looking at your product or service through their eyes.

In this article we are going to dive into the second step in the Lean Process which is Identifying the Value Stream. So, what is a Value Stream, how do we identify it, and why should we care? All great questions, but first let’s explore the concept of “Value”. Value can have many meanings and is typically unique to each of us. Many of us define our own sense of value. In the context of business, we look at value through the eyes of the customer (are you seeing a common theme here?). The definition of Value we discuss in Lean is anything that transforms the product you are producing in a way the customer is aware of AND is willing to pay for.

A Value Stream then are all the steps and actions that you put into your product or service that bring value to your customer. As you map out your Value Stream take the time to identify those steps that meet our definition of value. Just as important are identifying the steps in your process that do not bring value to the customer.

Once you have identified your Value Stream you are ready to start evaluating your process. All the activities that bring value to your customer, make sure you are knocking these steps out of the park. Understand the needs of the customer and ensure you have built processes that support getting these steps right every time!

After you have focused on delivering consistent performance in line with your customers desire, it is time to start looking at those activities that don’t bring value to the customer. It is important to understand, often there are many more steps required to deliver your product or service than the customer is willing to pay for. These are the steps you want to review and determine if it needs to be performed. If the answer is yes, then work to build in efficiencies to reduce the impact to the business.

There is a risk in taking a shotgun approach to increase efficiency across the board without first evaluating what brings value to the customer. The biggest risk is decreasing quality in those areas the customer derives value. Understanding where you need to double down on delivering quality helps you make good, informed decisions that impact customer value. Your mission this week, go back to Step One Identify Customer Desire. Now look at the steps in your process and match them to your customer desire. Are you focusing on putting value into your product or service that meets customer desire? Once you have optimized these Value Added steps, then you should start looking at eliminating waste.

At StonePath Business Solutions, we love helping companies be their absolute best! We partner with our clients to build Better Leaders, Better Teams & Better Process through Lean & Six Sigma tools & techniques along with Talent Strategy Solutions and Leadership Training and Coaching. Drop us a line at and let us know how we can meet your customer desire!

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