Value stream mapping for a happy work place

Work life is today hectic for most, and businesses face challenges with globalizing and a highly competitive environment. With new technologies, things are changing fast. This puts a lot of stress on the work environment, and we know that this has an effect on people and their performance (Ijimker et al, 2007). My suggestion is that a value stream mapping can be used to improve the work environment.

Outline of the blog post is following: background and some typical issues in a organization, a presentation of value stream mapping and lastly a discussion on how this can be used to create a positive work environment.

Many companies are structured so people work in functional teams. Meaning that, if you work with advertising, you work and collaborate with the other advertisers in the company. The advantage with this, is that at you get a professional environment that has the potential to be very competent – in their field. The disadvantages is that this can lead to an silo mentality, meaning that the people see themselves as the most important department in the company, and lacks the understanding and appreciation of the other departments. Further more, a sub optimizing is likely to happen, every department optimize their workload and forget to see their work from a broader perspective.

How does the sales department react when they get an express order from a customer and are told by the production department that they don’t have time in their schedule before a couple of weeks? The sales manager will instant argue that the customer is more important than the production schedule. For the production leader, he knows that if the schedule is interrupted, this will affect the delivery of five customers in the next week. Who is right in this case, the sales- or the production department? This would depend on factors like the importance of the delivery or customer.


To introduce the value stream mapping (VSM) to your business. VSM is to map every activity in the process of delivery of a service or product. VSM is an important concept in lean methodology and originates from the Toyota production system. The activities are found in the product development, physical production, and in the order taking. The idea is that activities that cannot be measured will be difficult to manage, and therefore they must be done visible. The activities are sorted into three categories:

  1. Those activities that are perceived as value by the customer
  2. Those activities which does not create value for the customer, but is needed for the process
  3. Those activities that the customer don’t perceive as value

(Womack & Jones, 1996)


An example on a value stream mapping (from

A good article on how you can map VSM in your business is found here. The design and the complexity of the VSM will depend on the industry. But the key point is to give people a better understanding of the activities in the organization and how they are connected with each other. Use a big blackboard or fill a wall with papers, make it visible. It is also important to include all the leaders in this work, let them participate in the sketching of the VSM.

Using VSM will give you a deeper understanding and respect of your colleagues work. In HCL Tecnologies, an IT and engineering service company, the employees have insight in the business activities and have the option to participate in the operational planning. The high degree of transparency has shown to be good business (Demailly, 2014). Transparency and insight increase people’s understanding, and the motivation increase, as people understand better how their work fits in the big picture (Johns el al. 1992). Transparency,  respect, understanding and motivation are all key features of a good work environment.

Further reading


Womack, J. P., & Jones, D. T. (1996). Lean thinking: banish waste and create wealth in your corporation. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Demailly, Cecile. (2014), Shaping the organization of the future. People & Strategy, March, Vol.37(1), p.54(3)

Ijmker, S., Huysmans, M.A., Blatter, B.M., Van Der Beek, A.J., Van Mechelen, W., & Bongers, P.M. (2007). Should office workers spend fewer hours at their computer? A systematic review of the literature. Occup Environ Med. 64: 211-222

Johns; B, P.J Xie & Y. Fang. (1992). Mediating and Moderating Effects in Job Design. Journal of Management 18: 657-676


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