Planes, Lanes, and Value Stream Flow.

What’s the Point of “Point Kaizen”?

It’s a common problem for companies to do “point kaizen”. This is where an improvement project is done with regard to just one step in the larger process or value stream. They are trying to improve just one point rather than the whole system.

When you travel too much – as I do – you can skip photo 1the immigration and customs process when you come into the airport. I have had a “Global Entry” card for some time now. Instead of standing in those long ziggy-zaggy lanes and waiting ages for the next friendly & helpful US Customs & Border Control officer to inspect you passport¬† – you go to the Global Entry machine, put in you passport, have an unflattering photo taken, and your fingerprints done. It only takes a minute or two and you are through to baggage claim.

Does this greatly improve the flow in the “Get Back Home” value stream? No, not at all. You don’t get home quicker because after the swift immigration check you wait in baggage claim for ages. All that has been achieved is to move the waste of waiting from one place to another. If you do not address the entire flow of the value stream, you will find that much of what looks like improvement is just transferring the waste somewhere else.

How can you avoid this very common misunderstanding.

  • First, use a Value Stream map when deciding which improvements you plan to make. This enables your team to see the big picture.
  • Second, use a Box Score to calculate the operational and financial benefits coming from the improvements. The Box Score always addresses the entire value stream, not just the individual steps.
  • And, you then use the box score to check that the planned improvements have actually been achieved and sustained.