How to illustrate a Value Stream - a proposal

Squeeds Julkalender | 2021-12-20 | Martin Berg
One of the key concepts in both Lean and Agile is Value Streams, this is the wikipedia definition “A value stream is the set of actions that take place to add value to a customer from the initial request through realization of value by the customer.” This is usually illustrated by a set of boxes with arrow pointing in one direction. No fun at all.....

...and we all know that reality is much more complex than this. There are millions of ways to make that more fun and possibly more educative.


I started to think about this and did some play with words to see what I could come up with.


  • Value Stream = Water streaming, feels logical somehow.

  • Value Creators = Teams, if Im to have any possibility to draw some fun thing I must have people acting in it. And in my case it has to be the Vige Squad. In other words orange trolls

  • Fulfilled customer need = Gift, or Christmas present

Ok so what might these words look like in drawing? Maybe something like this:

Ok we have a team, contributing to value (adding to the gift) in a stream, that is nice. But a value stream is much more complex than that right. We have all the other arrows and steps, let’s assume that teams do different parts to add to the value realisation, then we need another team, let’s put it upstream to this team.

Ok good it is starting to look liks some kind of value stream, but wait there is a package floating down the stream to the other team. Who will take care of that? I do have the feeling that it doesn’t look like this at all. More like this maybe?

Great we have a queue, well not great for the value delivery but that is sort of reality and that is what happens when we have dependencies in our value delivery stream. But that is not all, take a look at this:

This is what I would call a circular dependency, meaning that one team has a dependency to one team in order to be able to deliver value to the team, it could be a bug, a miss-understanding of the need etc. In this case I illustrated that as canal lock, the feedback or new addition to the value delivery needs to take another turn before it is done in this part of the delivery.

Ok now i think we have the basics, two teams, Team Pink and Team Red, a queue and a feedback illustration, let’s scale this thing up a bit, I’ll add two more teams downstream. Team Blue combines the first two teams delivery with the delivery of the forth team, Team Yellow. Team Blue also has a dependency back to Team Red. What team Yellow do nobody knows but they like to drink coffee.

Nice isn’t it? But why is the troll in Team Blue panicking? I’ll tell you, there has been a deploy to production, le't’s have a look.

Good that they found it before it reached the customer huh. Yeah where is the customer in alls this, you know the one that wants and will get the value for his/here desire. Well maybe after the stream follows the ocean. So why not put the customer there. Something like this maybe?

So that is it, we have a more fun way of looking at our Value Stream and as a bonus we also have an illustration of some concepts that is important to remember when you work with Value Stram Mapping. Here is the whole illustration in one picture. I hope you liked it. If you have any other ideas of how I could illustrate different parts of the value stream Im all ears. Get into contact with me on LinkedIn or on my webpage