Value Stream Management or Value Stream Mapping masked?

Are we really talking about value stream management, or are we rehashing the good old value stream mapping? Well, first, let’s remember a little about what Value Stream Mapping is.

by Roberto Baptista
co-author: Zózimo De Souza

Value Stream Management or Value Stream Mapping masked?

Are we really talking about value stream management or are we rehashing the good old value stream mapping? Well, first let’s remember a little about what Value Stream Mapping is.

Value Stream Mapping is an extremely useful lean tool that can be used by a company to identify, map and then use Lean principles and techniques to optimize an end-to-end value stream.

In the first step, the value delivered to the customer (end) and the trigger that triggers the value chain are identified. Once the trigger and the generated value are identified, the steps between these are then identified. In this step, the areas and the respective people who carry out the activities in each identified step are also identified.

Next, the mapping of the value chain is carried out, which is the process of measuring the execution times of each step, the waiting times between the steps, and the percentage of accuracy, which is the percentage of work received from the previous step that no correction was needed.

What was briefly described above is just an initial, but very important moment of Value Stream Mapping, the first “snapshot”, so to speak, of how a value chain of a solution, product or service is doing.

So isn’t Value Stream Mapping just that? No, Value Stream Mapping still has ramifications from the perspective of evaluation to go deeper into support value chains (Support Value Stream) and also into value chain segments (Value Stream Segment).
And remember that as we are talking about a technique derived from Lean, which goes back to the Toyota model(1), we are talking about continuous improvement. Emphasis here on “continuous”. This is because it is part of the Value Stream Mapping, after the initial mapping, to work continuously so that waste is eliminated or minimized. And so, from time to time, measurements are reevaluated and new changes applied.

Now come on, what is Value Stream Management then?
When searching the most recent articles published on the web, we found most publications defining Value Stream Management as a synonym for Value Stream Mapping(2–4). Some publications are even reducing the concept of Value Stream Mapping to the act of identifying a value chain and initially measuring its times! And all the wealth that comes after is calling Value Stream Management(5).
On the other hand, when we rescue some older scientific articles, we see some authors referring to Value Stream Management as a synonym for Value Stream Mapping(6).

So what is Value Stream Management?
Essentially, when we refer to the word management, we are linking the “soft” part of the organization to the business and the strategic vision. That is, people, their way of working and the skills necessary for a good result, linking an organizational purpose to this.
So we started to have efforts aimed at selecting and strategically prioritizing “value”, as well as defining the “future state” of this flow that creates value. And of course, metrics to monitor evolution and deviations. And in the “soft” part, we are specifically talking about the teams, their compositions, their workflows, their way of delivering, and the criteria for evaluating quality and productivity. Aligning all this to the strategic purpose of the business.

It is assumed then that the Value Stream Management is more related to how to create a topology of teams, integrated by workflow that benefits the generation of a strategically pre-selected value.

However, the big challenge lies in the assumption that “value” is not a fixed target, requiring that this work/team organization structure be adaptable. Furthermore, “value” is subject to interpretations depending on the person’s position in the stakeholder chain. For example, at the organizational level, a professional who is allocated/working in a senior management position, the “value” will have a more subjective bias, with an embedded market and financial vision. At a more operational level, “value” will be translated into an execution perspective, with a viability vision and built-in development effort. This fine-tuning of what value means in practice creates the need for tight control over the dependencies of “value” deployment, because perspectives generate “versions/alternatives” of working hours. Another example would be about the meaning of “value” observed by people positioned at the extremes of the production chain, that is, a Producer and a Consumer, both usually perceive “value” from different perspectives, that is, the appeal of value is associated to the individual perspective of those who look at it – like personal beauty or taste in food, and this increases the subjectivity of choices and decisions during the development cycle.

So these two situations place VSM in a scenario of high dynamism, and the systemic view becomes fundamental to consider decisions based on their impact on the whole.

Therefore, VSM goes through an approach to manage team structures, a framework to establish delivery flow, and both adaptable to the context of value, which in turn is variable. Also, a method to align the meaning of value among team members.

To better understand the challenges related to this subject, we believe that the answer to the question – What is Value Stream Management? It depends, precisely because “management” broadens the scope of the subject, and requires, as a starting point, a prior discussion about the “value” in the strategic context, so that the parties involved in the development of the solution adopt it as a premise, and subsequently map it out. flows, defining structures and teams, establishing follow-up metrics, etc., all adjusted to the “value” for the business.

  • We leave here some questions that we believe will help clarify the subject and contribute to a better understanding of Value Stream Management.
  • Are waiting times or activity execution times related to decisions across value chains?
  • Are identical or similar jobs mapped across value chains?
  • Do people feel prepared to follow the proposed improvements?
  • How are decisions on prioritizing investments for continuous improvement in value chains handled?
  • Which team topologies are most appropriate for flows?
  • How to synchronize the meaning of value between the different layers of the organization?
  • What do we mean by adaptable in the work structures of teams?

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1.           Ohno T. Toyota Production System: Beyond Large-Scale Production. New York: Productivity Press; 1988. 176 p.

2.           A Step-By-Step Guide to Value Stream Management [Internet]. Lucidchart. [citado 22 de novembro de 2022]. Disponível em:

3.           Brenton F. Council Post: What Is Value Stream Management? A Primer For Enterprise Leadership [Internet]. Forbes. [citado 22 de novembro de 2022]. Disponível em:

4.           Schimke M, Division ’s Enterprise. What’s New, What’s Next for Value Stream Management. CIO. 2022;

5.           Value Stream Mapping and Value Stream Management: How They Can Work for You [Internet]. InfoQ. [citado 20 de janeiro de 2023]. Disponível em:

6.           Chen JC, Cox RA. Value Stream Management for Lean Office—A Case Study. 26 de abril de 2012 [citado 25 de janeiro de 2023];2012. Disponível em:



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