I am heading back to the land of kangaroos and koalas soon to partner for a couple of weeks with KAON Consulting and the State of Queensland. In fact, Kevin and I are looking hard at the entire Pacific Rim, including Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia and Singapore where we are seeing a growing wave of interest in lean thinking.
To get my mind in that particularly unique Australian mode I have spent more time than usual reading the local news and came across a gem of an idea from a small business consultant from New South Wales by the name of Valerie Khoo: Mapping the Customer Journey. It is a cousin to – but not the same as – value stream mapping and, while Valerie is a small business expert, I see this as even more valuable for a big business. In my experience, the bigger the company the more arduous the customer journey often is.
The whole idea is to look at your company from the customer's point of view – to flow chart the experience from start to finish. This is one of those 'why didn't I think of that' ideas. Lean thinking already centers on going to the gemba to get the factory floor perspective on things, rather than sit in an office and delude yourself into thinking you can get a full understanding from reports and data. And we are certainly focused on value stream mapping how the process works from a cross-functional, but strictly internal point of view. This strikes me as a great adjunct to lean when we can layer the customer process over the internal value stream process.
I am not to enamored with her suggestion to use mind-mapping software – I like her 'markers and a flipchart' approach a lot better. And she is pretty thin on what to do with the information – I think it is a great structure for metrics. Look at how well each step of the customer journey is performed from the customer's point of view.
Regardless, I believe Valerie is onto something that an be a great addition to the body of lean principles and practices. I am going to have to start paying more attention to the Aussies. I am beginning to think that underneath that 'no-worries', 'put another shrimp on the barbie' exterior they are some very clever minds at work.