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    November 23, 2021

    Top Lessons from the Industry-First Value Stream Management Summit

    I was fortunate to be a part of our first Value Stream Management Summit, which brought together leading analysts, vendors, and executives from top enterprises. (If you weren’t able to join us, be sure to visit to catch the event replay.) Following are a few of my top takeaways from this informative event.

    1. Find the Urgency

    While much of the world shut down over the past 18 months, some companies thrived. Those that were most successful found new ways to do business by responding to urgent, external forces—and in the process, many grew much more lean, efficient, and effective. Moving forward, teams will need to marshal that same sense of focus, commitment, and urgency, because the need to adapt quickly won’t be dissipating any time soon.

    2. Start With What Will Bring You the Most Value

    During the summit, we talked to executives from three organizations: the Boeing Company, Chipotle Mexican Grill, and the Hershey Company. All of them implemented value streams in different ways and for different reasons:

    • Boeing faced falling revenues when airlines canceled plane orders, but other parts of their organization continued to bring in revenue. They took advantage of the slower pace, and started to implement new portfolio management processes that fed their development teams.
    • Chipotle had an urgent need to respond when in-person dining at all 2,000 of their restaurants was abruptly halted due to Covid-19. They managed to design new apps for contactless ordering and payment, customer engagement, and third-party deliveries—all within weeks. 
    • Hershey’s revenues actually increased during much of the pandemic. However, executives were concerned about how major holidays, such as Halloween, would affect product buying trends. They capitalized on these concerns and refocused their entire product lifecycle, including their software development lifecycle (SDLC), to streamline processes and become more efficient and effective.

    3. Start with Strategy

    There were also some similarities among the three companies: They all started with strategy, knowing that without the right approach, it doesn’t matter how fast they moved. Here’s a brief overview of each organization’s approach:

    • Boeing used the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) and aligned its people and processes to it, starting with its top-tier strategy.
    • The team at Chipotle moved their product management office (PMO) outside of IT and created an enterprise PMO, so planning and oversight could be done across the entire organization.
    • Hershey’s centralized their entire work management, so teams could see data at every level and across the entire portfolio.

    4. Visibility is Key

    At the summit, we heard from Christopher Condo, a principal analyst at Forrester, who studies the VSM market. He began focusing on this segment because many clients were voicing a similar challenge: While strides in areas like automation have been made, these efforts have remained largely siloed. As Condo explained, a big part of this comes down to visibility. VSM represents not only the processes for how value streams are managed, but also how teams get the visibility they need to optimize these processes.


    As organizations continue to adapt to rapidly evolving customer demands and market dynamics, VSM will continue to represent an increasingly strategic approach. To learn more about VSM, be sure to visit the VSM Summit site, which features on-demand replays of all sessions from this online event. Watch them to see the benefits your company can reap from VSM, as well as how to get started.

    Laureen Knudsen

    Laureen Knudsen is an award-winning senior business leader with 15+ year career that spans IT, financial and healthcare systems, and analytics. Co-Author of Modern Business Management: Creating a Built-to-Change Organization. Laureen leads a team of experts working to define the future of business to bring Lean...

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