Handoffs, handbacks, holdups and multi-tasking- discovering impediments without value stream mapping

Back in 2006, I would always incorporate value stream mapping into the training or engagement. Over the years, however, as Scrum teams have become predominant, I have found doing to to be of less value. Not because value stream mapping isn’t important – it is, but because people don’t seem to be able to do it well.

I’d find that once it got to the team people would say there weren’t delays. Now, with SAFe it’s often at the program level this is claimed. But intra-team delays and inter-team delays are still critical.

Value stream mapping is primarily useful to see when there are delays between steps in the work, people waiting for others, the work going back to correct something and delays in getting feedback. A good mantra is “flow when you can pull when you must.” I have found that looking at handoffs, handbacks (when work goes back from where it came for questions or corrections), holdups (when teams have to stop working and fix a problem (e.g., integration errors), and task-switching (multi-tasking) to be highly correlated with challenges a value stream map highlights.

I’ve recently started looking for these because people seem to talk about them more readily.

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