Lean Journey Map: A Visual Guide to Bridging the Gap Between Current State and Future State

By Steven Kane • May 30, 2017

Screen Shot 2017 05 30 At 9 52 26 Am

Any journey begins with an idea or understanding of where one is going and why.  When working with other people, communicating their destination and purpose is essential to getting the group to move together.  Long journeys require frequently regrouping to remind the team of the destination and purpose and also to reassess the current state.

The Lean Journey Map is a simple visual tool to improve communication and clarify the future state, current state, obstacles, and countermeasures.  It gives a team something to point at to answer the questions "Where are we?" and "Where are we going?"

This is a visual supplement to text and data intensive tools.

Step 1: Define your future state.  What is the measurable goal to be attained in 1-3 years?  Change from what number to what number by when?  Place this goal on the map (actually it's a graph) where the goal date on the X-axis intersects with the appropriate condition on the Y-axis.

Step 2: Plot your current state.  Get input from the entire team on what the current condition relative to the Y-axis.  There's no need to worry about being overly precise.  Place a large dot on that point and write a brief description about what the team is doing about the situation today.

Step 3: Take a step.  Align with lean principles and move.  Teach, coach, mentor, and inspire others to move in the same direction.  There's no need to be perfect or to reach your goal in a single step.  Move.  Keep moving.  Don't worry about taking a step in the wrong direction.  If that happens, the misstep will make itself known soon enough and you'll be able to adjust.  

Step 4: Measure, collect feedback, and reflect.  Are you heading in the right direction?  Is the team aligned with lean principles and the desired future state?

Step 5: Adjust.  Congratulations!  You've made progress.  Remember that the step you just took was to be better, not perfect.  What problems were discovered?  What needs to be done differently?  What is your next short-term target?

Now, update your map with your team.  Go back to step 1 and repeat the process.  Use the map as a point of discussion at stand-up meetings and strategy sessions.  It illustrates the teams thinking and actions, focusing on improving the organization for the purpose of reaching a specific goal.

Lean Journey Map