The team is busy

In any given organization, teams will be busy and accountable in some way or another their company’s plans. When starting a new effort, it will likely to be seen as a disruption of “business as usual”, and needs to gain cross-team acceptance to become a legitimate activity.

The following formula attempts to quickly introduce the new effort and gain that acceptance during kickoff, and ongoing activities to continuously adjust its course, with everyone’s participation.

Express kickoff formula

  1. Introductions (10 minutes)
  2. Methodology (45 minutes)
  3. Strategy (45 minutes)
    1. Identification of areas to improve
    2. Priority sliders
    3. Impact mapping
  4. Identification of the LOB most likely to benefit from change and succeed (45 minutes)
    1. Determine OKRs
    2. Drivers and constraints
    3. Hopes and fears
    4. Agree on scope and roadmap
  5. Next steps (15 minutes)


Propose an end-to-end approach, avoiding one that is “component-based” as it may lead to sub-optimal optimization of the VSM. Using this approach, recommend attaching to an activity that is either new or expands the unit’s footprint from its inception.

Participating in this process, assuming full collaboration with the entire team involved, will allow you to learn about and influence the process with the teams as they proceed through the VSM.

To be most effective, apply the Andon cord method whereby any inefficiency identified is resolved in real time before the next step is processed. This will ensure that the work of the team is transparent and pragmatic, as opposed to slide-ware and methodology discussion that often lead to analysis paralysis.

Continuity and learning by the affected people in each LOB is assured by co-sourcing and co-locating team members for the duration of each iteration. (An iteration is defined as one pass using the future VSM for a given LOB). In addition, the team should teach the “how to fish”, allowing them to continue their journey with little assistance.

Ongoing activities

  1. For a given LOB, for a given iteration, act in the following different axes, in priority:

    1. Secure and convey top down endorsement
    2. LOB-wide process mapping, communications, and optimization
    3. Bottom-up methodology transformation
    4. Cross-division collaboration
  2. For each of these axes, provide analysis and roadmap:

    1. Review of the characterization of the problems
    2. Baseline (Business process VSM)
    3. Identification of areas to improve
      1. Impact mapping
      2. Priority sliders
      3. Agree on priorities
    4. Determine OKRs
    5. Map Drivers and constraints
    6. Create the Future VSM
    7. For Delivery teams, optionally conduct a Digital Fitness Assessment (a guided self-assessment of the technical teams) if you deem it necessary based on constraints and relevance.
  3. Consolidate recommendations, write implementation plan, and prepare readout
  4. Secure agreement to the implementation plan
  5. Staff the team
  6. Andon-cord implementation with continuous and transparent communications in order to secure top-down support, including retrospectives that will highlight the needed changes.