When organizations embark on a lean project – for many they start with Value Stream Mapping. Value stream mapping helps identify non value add processes and helps to capture and visualize an organizations information and material flows.

“Learning to see” by Mike Rother and John Shook is perhaps the definitive guide to Value Stream Mapping – the authors help break down the concept into an easy to follow practical business tool with plenty of example value stream maps, diagrams and helpful hints.

Perhaps the best thing about the book is it’s practical application – within the book is the example of a fictional company and readers are encouraged to conduct a sample value stream mapping activity. This is an excellent opportunity to capture and highlight waste and move onto to constructing a future state value stream map. This really helps deconstruct Value Stream Mapping into its basic concepts and with the engaging text of its two expert authors readers are taken through the process step by step and shown how VSM is part of an overall lean program.

Basing most of its examples on manufacturing organizations (you may need to gen up on your manufacturing concepts if your unfamiliar) those looking for service industry examples may be left wanting but this is a small criticism of a concept that is easily adaptable.

As a user guide, this is a great book to recommend to anyone who is interested in the topic or is going to take part in a VSM project. Follow the book through and people unfamiliar with the concept should be mapping in no time.

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