This is a chapter fromAmplio Development: The Path to Effective Lean-Agile Teams

What are value streams?

Value streams refer to the steps required from start to finish to accomplish something. There are many different types of value streams, but all have the main concepts in common. Value streams shift the focus from the people doing the work to the work being done, both its sequence and timing. There are many different types of value streams. For our purposes, we’ll classify them as:

  1. customer value streams
  2. operational value streams
  3. business-enabling value streams
  4. development value stream networks

Customer value streams are the value streams of the customer, that is, the actions they and others when necessary, take for them to get value. Innovation is primarily about improving these value streams. These include using the product/service, getting support for the product/service, and setting up to get (or getting) the product/service.

Operational value streams are those workflows for marketing, selling, deploying the product/service, and supporting customers.

Business-enabling value streams are the workflows for the internal process of the company. These activities include buying and maintaining a server network, stocking shelves, HR, and Legal.

Development value streams are the value streams creating the ones just mentioned. However, they are not linear as the others are and are better thought of as value stream networks. But the concepts and what to look for in them are very similar.

The Benefits of Attending to Value streams

 “Attending to value streams” means:

  • being aware of them
  • notice how they interact with each other
  • when making a change, see how it will affect the overall productivity in the value stream

Consider how Apple changed how many of us listen to music. The iPod and its supporting music services changed how people listened to music. By creating products and the systems people used, customer value streams changed. Breakthrough innovation usually comes from providing value to the customer by attending to how they work and designing our systems to influence that positively.

In most organizations, people are busy, but the work often moves at a snail’s pace because it continually stops and starts. By attending to the value streams, we can see what is happening and how to improve it. This also highlights system constraints across all the value streams mentioned.

Attending to value streams guides us in improving our development work while lowering its costs.

This book is primarily about the development value stream network in which the team is embedded. We will learn to work on smaller items, focus on removing delays, avoid overloading people in the value streams, and get people to be in one value stream to avoid multitasking. Flow, Lean, and the Theory of Constraints all attend to the value stream for several reasons. Mapping value stream networks:

  1. Provides visibility on what is being worked on and how
  2. Illuminates the delays in value add. These delays also create waste in the process
  3. Identifies the constraints in the system