Envision the Future State

The second step in a Lean transformation is to develop the vision for future state. Analyze the current state value stream map and performance data to identify sources of waste, barriers to flow, and areas that require improvement activities. Look for processes that cannot produce to Takt time, and where inventory accumulates. Ask several questions like, “What does the customer need?” “Which steps in our process are waste and which create value for the customer?” “How can our work flow with fewer interruptions?” “Which processes need to be improved?” The answers to these questions will lead to a vision of the improved future state.

Create a future state value stream map that represents the value stream after the planned improvement activities have been completed. New cycle times, flow paths, and estimates for other performance data should all be represented. This future state value stream map will help guide improvement activities and provide a target for the teams to achieve. Improvement activities will leverage many Lean tools and concepts, including changeover reduction, Total Productive Maintenance (TPM), continuous flow and pull systems, 5S, standard work, and more. Begin with high priority improvements that can be achieved rapidly. These improvements will build momentum and encourage the team to accomplish more. Subsequent iterations can address items that cannot be resolved quickly or easily, like product design changes or improvements that may require large capital expense or new IT efforts.

Once the vision for the future state has been developed, Kaizen teams start to implement improvements. Kaizen is a Japanese term that means “improvement.” A Kaizen Event is a highly focused improvement project that has a limited scope and is intended to be executed very rapidly, usually within one week. A successful Kaizen Event requires structured and methodical planning, execution, and follow-up on any activities that will take longer than the intended time frame to execute.

Kaizen Events are a powerful way to rapidly execute the improvements identified in the future state value stream map. In addition to achieving rapid improvement, Kaizen Events create “buzz” within an organization, and therefore are effective tools to gain buy in, participation, and enthusiasm for performance improvements throughout a company.