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Lean Reference Guide > Lean Dictionary

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"V" Terms
from The Continuous Improvement Companion

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  • Vacations

    Vacations and holidays are an important part of job satisfaction and employee retention. They provide employees an opportunity to recharge the batteries and to live their lives outside of work. Managing vacations can be difficult in any company, but the challenge can be amplified in a Lean organization where there is very little excess capacity and very structured work. With a good strategy, though, the impact can be reduced substantially.

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  • Value

    Value, simply put, is something that a customer is willing to trade for. The trade is most commonly done with cash, meaning that a customer is willing to pay for it. Not all things that are valued are paid for, though. Consider the numerous free downloads on this site. Customers who value the information don’t pay, but rather register on the site or subscribe. They trade permission to contact them for the value they find in the content. Facebook customers trade the easy access to friends’ information they value for permission to data-mine and advertise.

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  • Value Stream

    A value stream is the series of activities that take a product from the supplier to the customer (for a physical product), or from the customer request to filling that need (for a service or informational product). It includes all the value-adding processes that the company performs in the Lean office or on the shop floor.

    The value stream takes a big picture view of what a company does to deliver goods or services to the customer.

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  • Value Stream Analysis

    Value stream analysis is one of the steps in the value stream mapping process. The first step is to create a current state value stream map. This is simply a snapshot in time of the current conditions of an organization. Once the map is complete, however, you must decide what to do.

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  • Value Stream Map

    A value stream map (VSM) is a drawing that depicts the flow of material and information along a value stream (the linked series of processes that brings a product from raw materials into the hands of the customer, or that provide a service to a customer).

    Value Stream Map Sample

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  • Value Stream Mapping / VSM Icon Set (+ Form)

    Value Stream Mapping is an extremely powerful tool that gives an organization a unified understanding on how processes link together to form a ‘value stream’ that turns raw materials, components, and information into something that a customer wants.

    While most Lean practitioners will instruct you to create the map with pencil and paper on the shop floor, there is a benefit to transferring that information onto a digital format that can be easily annotated, updated, and shared.

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  • Value-Added Work

    Value added work consists of the tasks that a customer is willing to pay for. Generally this is something that changes the form, fit, or function of raw materials.

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  • Variation

    Variation is the enemy of processes. Variation in the inputs or in the process itself causes variation in the output of the process. And that variation is perceived as poor quality.

    The layman’s definition of variation is simply fluctuation.

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  • Visual Control

    A visual control builds on 5S. It uses organization and standardization (usually in the form of Standard Work) to make an abnormal condition stand out.

    In a Lean environment it does three things:

    1. A visual control shows the current condition quickly.
    2. A visual control shows what the standard is quickly.
    3. A visual control links to an action.
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  • Visual Management

    Visual management is the concept of making a workplace more effective by making the current condition of a workplace obvious at a glance.

    But visual management doesn’t stop there. For it to be effective, there must also be a predetermined course of action when a specific (whether normal or abnormal) condition is identified.

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  • Voice of the Customer / VOC (+ 15-Page Lean PDF)

    Voice of the Customer Lean Term on PDF

    Most companies say that the customer is important, but hardly listen to them at all. Great companies focus on capturing the Voice of the Customer (VOC) from numerous sources. Visit this Lean term page to learn more and download a FREE 15-Page PDF about how the voice of the customer should affect your Lean operation.

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  • Volunteers

    Volunteering plays a big role in continuous improvement. In many organizations, training is provided, but may not be mandatory. Prospective students may have to sign for a “Corporate University” rather than be directed to attend by their supervisor. Projects are also often filled first with willing participants. Efforts to improve one’s job may be appreciated by leaders, but might not be required.

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  • VSM

    See Value Stream Map.

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