Strategic Lean Mapping - a GPS to Continuous Improvement
With "Strategic Lean Mapping", Steve Boris has created a veritable GPS that can guide Supply Chain Professionals through the many mapping boulevards they encounter on the road to continuous improvement. Using Lean as the compass, Mr. Borris demonstrates why mapping is the "best method ever used to diagnose issues" in a company’s supply chain. As a discipline, Supply Chain Management is replete with acronyms like MRP, ERP, EDI, RFID, VMI, JIT, TDL, TMI, etc. Dichotomies such as "accurate forecasting" are accepted as normal. That’s why the down to earth approach that Borris brings is so valuable. He writes of the big picture, process, value stream, and capacity mapping that supply chain professionals need to understand.
Steve Borris developed his supply chain expertise through his years with the Scottish Manufacturing Advisory Service where he specialized in continuous improvement. That background may explain why his directions are as easy to follow as the friendly voice commands of your GPS. The tools Borris provides can help companies at all stages of supply chain development. He uses unique forms and symbols to create a big picture map that is one of the most useful versions of Strategic Lean Mapping ever created. This view from 10,000 feet tool gives users a uniquely superior understanding of the scope of their projects.
All supply chain practitioners will recognize the material and information flows (and holds) built into the map when using Borris’ seven distinct inputs. Yet upon deeper investigation, more experienced engineers will find valuable details that can maximize the tool's usefulness. All of the maps and tools introduced have this unique quality of being immediately understandable, while still presenting more advanced information that will satisfy even the most ardent mathematical modeler. Future state maps are then generated that integrate the seven (plus one) deadly wastes of Lean during the review process.
The text also includes more detailed Process and Value Stream Maps (VSM) that are created in the traditional Post-it note fashion. When put into practice, the VSMs give the users flexibility to define, redefine and refine the greater detail common to these tools.
However, it is the capacity map that elegantly solves those problems that VSMs cannot discern. The capacity map is an evolution of the process map that considers equipment efficiencies and the Theory of Constraints. The analog structure of the capacity map contrasts with the digital (value added vs. non-value added) structure of VSM to identify non-apparent bottlenecks particularly when dealing with multiple input streams.
If you are already a guru of Supply Chain Management, Lean, and Kaizen techniques, you will still find the unique tools and blended strategies of "Strategic Lean Mapping" a great addition to your toolbox of ideas. It may well replace many of your favorite weapons. And if you are new to the field, this is an excellent place to start your road to supply chain mastery.
This review was written by Bob Simmons. Bob Simmons currently teaches Industrial Engineering Technology at Northwestern State University. He holds degrees in Mechanical and Manufacturing Systems Engineering. He holds a six sigma black belt certification, and is actively involved in the Institute of Industrial Engineers; American Society for Engineering Education; American Society for Quality; and the Production and Operations Management Society.