Where do you start?
- Identify the process and use verb/noun to describe it: Make Breakfast Process
- Define the purpose of the process (why does this process exist?): to prepare a tasty cooked breakfast
- Record the Process Owner (if known): Ernie Wise.
With this agreed, you can now progress to creating a linear flowchart of the process:
- Establish the first and last steps
- Describe each major activity using a verb (action) followed by a noun (object)
- Write each step on a Post-it note ®
- Arrange the steps in sequence
- Connect the steps with arrows
- Don’t get lost in the details of the process.
At this point you should have between 8 – 12 steps.
Linear flowcharts are the simplest form and are useful to provide a picture of the overall flow. They can help you standardise the work, uncover duplication of effort, delays, omissions and unnecessary steps. If you find that the flow of the process passes from one organisational unit to another you may want to consider using an integrated flowchart.
I will be thinking of Morecambe and Wise the next time I’m faced with a process bottleneck or analysing the unintended effect of the interaction of two processes I had thought operated independently.
Perhaps I’ll change my mantra in the future and go from ‘What would Deming do?’ to ‘What would Eric and Erni do?’