November 9, 2018

Dan’s Second Rule of Process Mapping

Dan’s second rule of process mapping is that the problems in the process should be easy to see. The “as is” process map is the starting point for analyzing a process. I often talk about “lenses of analysis” which refer to the different ways we can look at the flow of work and information through an organization. In this blog entry, I am going to show some simple graphic symbols and comments to identify issues.

The first lens I use is the frustration lens. Here we ask those who work in the process what frustrates them. The frustrations are written on blue post it notes and placed on the map where the frustration is experienced. I like the frustration lens for these reasons:

  • People get to vent about the things in the process that aggravate them.
  • The frustrations often link to quality problems.
  • A grouping of blue post it notes highlights a big problem.
  • By finding quick fixes to the frustrations, buy-in for process improvement goes through the roof.
  • The frustrations often link to process design principles. Process design principles are best practices from world class organizations. I discuss 38 design principles in my book, Process Mapping, Process Improvement, and Process Management.

Another lens is time. Here we are looking for places where the work stops and waits. These are represented by red dots with a W. The W is for waiting. Ask your staff what is causing the waiting? Is it how work is prioritized? Is it a staffing problem? How can you shrink or eliminate these wait areas?

Where quality problems crop up, I use a pink or orange post it note with the quality problem written on it. You would want to know what is the root cause of quality issues. If we do not find root cause, the issue will likely resurface.

In the example below you can see a simple process map with these symbols. See how these symbols makes the map much more interesting and focuses our attention to where the problems are occurring.


In my next blog post I will discuss the types of data that we can insert in our process maps. We cover this and much more in our Process Mapping and Improvement seminar. Hope to see you there.