Pioneered by Toyota in the 1940s, Lean thinking revolutionized the manufacturing industry, improving collaboration, communication, and flow on production lines. Value stream mapping is the Lean tool Toyota used to define and optimize the various steps involved in getting a product, service, or value-adding project from start to finish.

In business today, the application of value stream mapping – also referred to as “visualizing” or “mapping” your process – isn’t limited to the assembly line. With proper implementation, value stream mapping fosters a culture of continuous improvement that has been proven effective in IT, engineering, financial, HR, legal, and marketing services. Depending on your industry, you might use a different value stream mapping definition. This article applies the term broadly to any type of knowledge work that has a process or repeatable steps.

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