Musings on lean in a development context

What exactly is the concept of ‘value’ in the context of an international development programme? Is it obtained from the outputs of projects, the outcomes of programmes, the longer-term impact of these outcomes, or a combination of all three? What value is there in building national capacity to manage programmes and projects. Who benefits directly or indirectly from these things? Who are the various stakeholders? What is civil society and to what extent is it or its component parts a stakeholder? What value do the various stakeholders perceive in a development programme? How do these perceptions vary? Are some perceptions of value more important than others? Are there any value conflicts and, if so, what effect do these have and how are they handled?

How about the concept of ‘value stream’. What does this look like in a typical development programme? Where is value being added and where is there waste? Where is the evidence for this?

Is it reasonable to think that the value stream might divide into several directions of flow at some point or points in the programme, with subordinate value streams running through the lifecycle of each project? Do these tributaries then rejoin the main flow at the various points of project closure, often towards the end of the programme? Is there also a separate value stream associated with gains in capability during the programme lifecycle? Or does all this completely misconstrue the concept of value stream?

And flow: what are the obstacles to value creation within the value stream and over the programme lifecycle? Which are most important? What are the causes of these obstacles? How can they be overcome?

Exactly how does the concept of ‘pull’ translate into a development programme? What is being pulled at the various points in the lifecle of the programme and its projects and who is doing the pulling at these points?