Brainstorming for Success


Value Stream Mapping (VSM) describes a process by charting the materials and information flow of a product or a service along a value chain. Part of Lean Thinking, VSM is a business practice that aims to eliminate waste. This processes was described previously in “Value Stream Mapping — Putting Your Process to Work” (CGI, March 2010, pp. 38–41). This article picks up where I left off in March and introduces the practice of brainstorming.

In Lean Thinking, brainstorming is known as kaizen, which means “to make improvement” in Japanese. A company moves from its As-Is VSM, which describes the current state of affairs, to its To-Be VSM, which represents a plan for an improved process, facilitated by brainstorming.

With kaizen, everyone in the organization plays a part in seeking and implementing change for the better. Brainstorming capitalizes on the creativity and experience of all team members. In this process you seek to define the criteria that need to be met; focus on problems; remain open to all ideas; and innovate. It is important that this is done in an environment that encourages creativity, so make it relaxed and have fun. Allow individual ideas to fuel larger and more creative solutions. Let brainstorming take you from the map to the plan.

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