At the Compete Smart conference for Montana’s manufacturers, I attended break-out sessions on Value Stream Mapping and Training Within Industry. The names sound very different and they come from very different methods, but I was struck by the fit between them.
Value stream mapping is done from the perspective of the process being mapped. So if you are mapping a widget manufacturing line, you think about the widget and what happens to it, not about the job descriptions of the person putting it into the CNC machine. Once you have mapped in detail all the steps that happen to the widget, you question all the steps and look at which ones actually add value, from the customer’s point of view. The steps that don’t add value should be eliminated and the value-added steps should be rationalized so that the process is as efficient as possible.
Once you have the value stream map sorted out, you turn the perspective around and look at the jobs involved. For each job that actually adds value to the widget, what is the best way to do it? Training Within Industry includes a process for improving Job Methods that follows much the same path as value stream mapping:
1) Break down the job, including materials, machines needed, and hand work
2) Question every detail
3) Develop a better method
4) Apply the new method
The perspectives of the two processes are different – value stream mapping looks at the widget, while Job Methods looks at the worker – but the way both processes approach the problem is the same: Break it down to the details, question everything, make it better, and apply it. The approach can be used for tackling all kinds of problems, whether or not there is a fancy name attached to them.