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Learning About Value Stream Management


September 27, 2021

When we launched the Value Stream Management Consortium (VSMC) on March 3rd of this year, we had two very clear initial deliverables in mind. Firstly, the State of Value Stream Management Report which we published in July. Secondly, our first piece of learning, a Value Stream Management Foundation course, which we released today, September 27th, 2021.

We founded the consortium because we passionately believe that value stream management (VSM) is an emerging field that has the potential to dramatically and positively impact the digital transformation happening right now across the globe. We want to work with the community to help establish good VSM practices and open standards.

Lean and agile experts will know that the roots of value stream management go way back to Ford and Toyota mid-last century. But there’s something different about now:

  • The prevalence of digital value streams
  • The widespread adoption of DevOps; and that many are getting stuck in their journeys
  • The evolution of DevOps toolchains and the availability of data and insights into flow and value realization

We crowdsourced the building of the course with our own learning value stream and our community, with content curation and creation led by myself and Steve Pereira, board advisor to the VSMC. Our contributors in our learning value stream, Amel Chehayeb, Brian Ashcraft, Brian Muskoff, Richard Knaster, Richard Winslow, and Yaniv Sayers, brought their unique insights to the materials and provided the content they felt is key to this learning.

The course is an introduction to value stream management principles, practices, and tools. It’s designed to optimize value flow and realization in digital value streams and develop individuals’ skills. Digital value streams include the software applications and services in addition to the platforms that support them e.g., cloud infrastructure or DevOps toolchains.

It’s for anybody working in an organization aiming to improve performance, especially in response to digital transformation or disruption, so for any roles involved in the creation and delivery of products or services:

  • Leadership and CXO, especially CIO, CTO, CPO, and CVO
  • Transformation and evolution leads and change agents
  • Value stream architects, managers, engineers
  • Scrum Masters, agile and DevOps coaches and facilitators
  • Portfolio, product and project managers, and owners 
  • Business analysts
  • Architects, developers, and engineers
  • Release and environment managers
  • IT Ops, service and support desk workers
  • Customer experience and success professionals

It takes learners through a value stream management implementation journey and considers the human, process, and technology aspects of this way of working. We set out to satisfy a number of learning objectives:

  • Describe the origins of value stream management and key concepts such as flow, value, and delivery
  • Describe what value stream management is, why it’s needed and the business benefits of its practice
  • Describe how lean, agile, DevOps, and ITSM principles contribute to value stream management
  • Identify and describe value streams, where they start and end, and how they interconnect
  • Identify value stream roles and responsibilities
  • Express value streams visually using mapping techniques, define current and target states and hypothesis backlog
  • Write value stream flow and realization optimization hypotheses and experiments
  • Apply metrics such as touch/processing time, wait/idle time, and cycle time to value streams
  • Understand flow metrics and how to access the data to support data-driven conversations and decisions
  • Examine value realization metrics and aligning to business outcomes, and how to sense and respond to them (outcomes versus outputs)
  • Architect a DevOps toolchain alongside a value stream and data connection points
  • Design a continuous inspection and adaptation approach for organizational evolution

We consider the course itself to be a digital value stream. It’s our long-lived product and we’ll be continually enhancing it in line with learner and instructor feedback. We’ve created an online version that’s free to all VSMC members and have partnered with DevOps Institute who is managing the certifications for us, and making the course available to their global network of expert instructors so that they can offer live classes too.

We intend this to be our flagship course in a portfolio of learning that we are developing. We’re not sure what the next course will be, we’re awaiting feedback from this launch to determine that, but it’s likely it’ll be a practitioner course, perhaps aimed at Value Stream Architects.

The feedback we have received from our reviewers and testers has been resoundingly positive and we are excited to offer this to the burgeoning VSM community and looking forward to hearing how people respond to their learning and guide us into our next chapter.

To become a VSMC member and gain access to the Value Stream Management Foundation course, go here.

Course Description

Helen Beal

Helen Beal

Helen Beal is a DevOps and Ways of Working coach, Chief Ambassador at DevOps Institute, and ambassador for the Continuous Delivery Foundation. She is the Chair of the Value Stream Management Consortium and provides strategic advisory services to DevOps industry leaders such as Plutora and Moogsoft. She is also an analyst at Accelerated Strategies Group. She hosts the Day-to-Day DevOps webinar series for BrightTalk and the Value Stream Evolution series on TechStrong TV. She speaks regularly on DevOps and value stream-related topics, is a DevOps editor for InfoQ, and also writes for a number of other online platforms. She regularly appears in TechBeacon’s DevOps Top100 lists and was recognized as the Top DevOps Evangelist 2020 in the DevOps Dozen awards and was a finalist for Computing DevOps Excellence Awards’ DevOps Professional of the Year 2021.