Understanding Value Stream Mapping


Understanding Value Stream Mapping

The amount of physical effort required by an employee to produce an object or service is referred to as work. Work may be physical, such as producing something through a tool or by the use of manual power; or psychological, such as completing a task assigned by the employer. Typical types of work are manual, intellectual, interpersonal, production and sales jobs. Manual workers include cooks, carpenters, bricklayers, plumbers and mechanics. Intellectual workers are writers, scientists, professors and bankers.

Intellectually defined tasks refer to those that require a certain amount of mental activity, and involve the use of the senses such as sight, touch, hearing and so on. Such tasks produce information, which is then stored in the mind of the person. To make valuable objects or services, human capabilities must be properly developed and used. The value of human capabilities is determined by how well they can be put to productive use in completing tasks that are needed for day-to-day operations.

Under this broad heading, there are two important concepts to help us understand the nature and value of work: what it is to do, and how it is done. Although the scope of human activities has been steadily growing over time, assigning specific functions to objects and people is still relatively vague. Work on these issues will continue to become more precise as social relationships and technological systems become more complex and the meaning of work expands.

The value of work also depends on how well it is done. The definition of value of a commodity often has more to do with how well it satisfies the demand than how well it satisfies the supply. This is a very important point because the Internet has made many other kinds of routine tasks more difficult. If the Internet were to become paralyzed, for instance, there would be no more valuable items, because there would be no one who needs them. Likewise, the value of work does not disappear when one performs the task. Rather, when it is performed successfully, it gives humans a sense of control over their environment.

However, value creation is not the only thing that determines the value of work. Humans also need to be motivated in order to perform routine tasks. For example, the Internet has created a great need for search engine optimization (SEO), which is essential to the proper indexing of Web pages. Without SEO, Google’s indexing process would be much slower. In addition, when humans are motivated, they will attempt to accomplish even complex tasks more efficiently. In fact, this tendency is a vital component of the value creation process.

Value creation in business is dependent upon the knowledge and skills of employees. Work organization is an endeavor to create value by employing people who can do tasks with a higher degree of efficiency and effectiveness. This requires that managers be aware of the skills that employees possess and be able to match them with tasks of higher value. In a nutshell, value stream mapping helps managers to redefine work by adding new value-creating activities and knowledge.