Brilliant Idea #345. Disrupting the Process Diagram

making a cup of tea process map

















I know, from a previous role, a reasonable amount about process mapping and process mapping tools.

One of the ways we used to teach the basics of process was to ask people to think about making a cup of tea. Of course anyone can describe this and write it down, but when you start to actually talk about it very quickly you realise that there’s loads of room for variation and it’s all too easy to miss steps out and there’s certainly some ambiguity about the order of which steps are done or the level of detail required.

We would then start to map out the process to prove that the specific language and syntax of a process – boxes containing a verb and a noun, a resource (who and what does it) and inputs and outputs was a much better, faster and more accurate way of recording and communicating how stuff gets done than written text just as is in the image above.

Now, process mapping isn’t a ubiqutous activity – not everyone exploits the discipline and syntax but it’s still a sizeable marketplace. Microsoft makes it easy to use Powerpoint for process diagrams and they have their Visio tool and there are a host of 3rd party software vendors out there.

Brilliant Idea #345 is to disrupt the process diagram (and therefore the process mapping tools out there).

If I go back to the ‘making a cup of tea’ process, mapping it is better, faster and more accurate than using plain language…but making a video is even better still. When process mapping was invented in the 50’s this capability wasn’t readily available, but we all have a video recorder and editor on our mobile phones. Services like Instagram and Vine make it incredibly easy and simple to make a video without any special knowledge. As well as it being easier to create, compared to a process which does need some knowledge of the syntax in order for it to be understood, everyone can understand images and video.

So what is it? It’s a mobile phone app that allows anyone to record a video describing how something works but it also allows the creator to add annotations and even the workflow to send it to someone to ask them to confirm whether they understand and agree to follow the process.