Thursday, May 20, 2010

Lean - can we also add value?

Busy with a training on Lean. Interesting stuff, with powerful process improvement concepts and techniques.

One of the central concepts is value added. When analysing a process (or in Lean terms: value stream), one can find activities that do not add value to the customer. Basic question to find them: ask for each activity "is the customer willing to pay for this"?

To really be able to answer this question, one needs to understand how the customer views value: what is valuable for the customer, what does he/she expect - as a base, as extra value, etc. In Six Sigma terms "The voice of the customer".

This approach is strong, but has one risk: it might lead to a very reductionist view on process improvement: to (mainly) remove activities.
Great for lead time improvement and cost cutting. However....

What if, from a competitive perspective, there is a way to delight customers even better, by adding activities?? "Toolhead" lean will likely ignore this possibility....

- The small gift my daughter got when she received an injection
- The extra time my dentist spends to explain the procedure and relax me
- The bicycle (hey, this is Holland :-)) the cardealer provides me for free, when my car is being serviced

These are the things that make me come back. Any examples you have?

This is the area of the strategy - process alignment: if you want to be special as a company, don't just remove waiste. Add extra value.

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