Apologies for my neglect of this site, now, where were we?
Once value is specified in terms of what the client wants, the next step in developing a lean system or organization is to identify the value stream. This refers to the sequence of actions that bring resources forward toward the end client. It includes everything the agency does, but also everything their suppliers do. In California's system, for example, the process of becoming lean would start with what the client needs and look at how the direct support staff provide for that. The next step would be to look at the both the program design and the supervisor and how each provide the needed resources for the direct support person to serve the customer.
Value Streams when looked at honestly are extraordinarily complex and long, and rarely confined within a single agency in manufacturing. Certainly not in this system. This does not mean by itself that they are wasteful or inefficient. The economist, Milton Friedman once used a cover photo on one of his books depicting himself holding a pencil. The point of the photo was the pencil which contained rubber from Indonesia, metal mined in Central America, wood from canada and graphite from somewhere else (it's been awhile since I read Friedman) and were assembled and sold in the United States for a dime apiece.
A rough example of a value stream might be as follows: A male Supported Living client is hungry so a staffperson cooks for him using food purchased by another staffperson with money delivered by a Supervisor. Those funds may have been given to the Supervisor by an agency comptroller who cashed a check with funds for several clients received from the regional center as the fiduciary for Social Security. On another branch of the Value Stream, the employee cooking was following a person-centered Individualized Service Plan (ISP) which authorized cooking and described any parameters to the meal. That ISP may have been reviewed by a supervisor and must have been also reviewed by a regional center employee, signed off on by a Program Manager and funded. Both the funds and the terms of approving the ISP were delivered to the regional center from DDS based on allocations and controlling statutes set forth by the California legislature. If the client was eligible for the Medicaid waiver, a second branch of the allocation and regulation process travels through the federal government.
There are three things that I believe can safely be said about the process above:
1) That it is an oversimplification of the value stream leading to a single client eating a single meal,
2) That it probably repeats tens of thousands of times per day in California, maybe a half-million times per year.
3) That it probably doesn't go smoothly every time at every step. Even 99% success reflects a lot of defects in a tiny portion of the overall community-based system.
Taken together, if the assertions above are true, there exists extraordinary potential for both improving the satisfaction of clients and reducing the cost of the system. Just in the preparation of meals. Just in Supported Living clients.
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