"If you want to map a process, grab a pen and some Post-it Notes. You don't need a fancy software package. This is an iterative process and you don't want to worry about making some pretty process map. Then I want you to work backwards. From the customer's point of view.
Most process outcomes have a customer and you want the voice of that customer to guide your process. Every step in a process should be of some value, and value is defined by your customer. Your customer can be an internal customer, like your boss or a coworker or another department. Or the customer can be external. They can be a partner, supplier or a client. On the first Post-it Note, write down the desired outcome. This is your process goal in how you're going to measure success. Now start working backwards. What value needs to be delivered to enable that goal? What's the step immediately preceding the desired outcome? That's a value added activity? Who owns it? What's the standard? How long should it take? Then keep working backwards. What has to happen to enable this step? and the step before that? and the step before that?
What you end up with is a series or a stream of value added activities. And it's called a 'value stream'. This is your process. It's a series of best practices with no wasted time or effort. Processes are going to become outdated and steps become redundant. Remember, a good process map eliminates non-value added work. You want to simplify your processes and highlight your most critical standards. Once you do this, you want to test and refine the process map with people closest to the work.
This is an iterative process and it's never-ending. You want to name the process so people know what you're referring to and you want to be open to everyone's input. No process should ever be written in stone. You want to celebrate new ideas and encourage new ways of thinking.
One final thought: The best way to instill your value system is to focus relentlessly on the things you deem most important. A value stream is a simple way to express the behaviors, activities and standards that are your highest priority. Codify your values and your people know what's expected. Map the value stream and you eliminate guesswork. And if you don't take your eye off the ball, neither will your team."
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