Identify Areas of Flow

Flow is Nirvana, The Ultimate Goal


Flow is one of three methodologies of passing a product or service from an upstream process to a downstream process. It is the fastest methodology, but also the most difficult methodology to attain. Let me start by explaining this graphic. SIPOC is a generally high-level representation of a process representing inputs and outputs. The S and I stand for Supplier and Input respectively. These represent inputs to the process. P simply stands for Process. O and C represent Output and Customer respectively.

Processes are made up of activities. For Flow to occur, all the activities in the upstream process must take the same time to execute as all the activities in the downstream process. This sets up the condition called Flow. There needs to be no special communication between the processes. The upstream and downstream processes finish at the same time.

Flow is not only ideal, but it is difficult to accomplish. However, it is worthwhile to take the effort to move processes to this configuration. You might be able to accomplish this by shifting activities from one process to another. You have the option of shifting activities either to the upstream process or the downstream process.

In Conclusion

It is unlikely that Flow will happen throughout a whole system. However, it is to the system’s benefit if you can target areas for Flow and modify processes to make it happen. This means that you are operating with a minimal amount of either excess inventory or wasted time.