In Chapter 2, the author introduces tools to visualize systems and processes. It mainly covers Brainstorming, Flowchart, Deployment Flowchart, PERT Diagram, Cause-and-Effect Diagram. It may seem elementary. But I still find it rewarding, and I have summarized the learnings in the following paragraphs.

First, honesty is a prerequisite for useful flowcharts. I think you may have seen flowcharts that do not accurately represent reality instead they are some ideal flows in people’s heads which are not how people work day in and day out. To improve the process itself, you first need to identify the current flow honestly. Second, flowcharts drawn by those who do not do the work have no contact with reality. Sometimes, due to time constraints, a project deadline, some helpful colleagues will help to create part of the flow charts. However, since they are not involved in the operations, the flow charts created are more or less useless.

By adhering to the above 2 rules, you ensure the flowchart created represents accurate reality. This provides you with a basis to analyze the current systems and processes by asking “What value is added by this step?”. To help you visualize and communicate your process to other departments and people, I have summarized some useful visualization techniques mentioned in Chapter 2.Flowchart

Flowchart

Some flowchart conventions. The most useful one is Circles. You can use it to break a huge process into several sheets so that the whole chart will be more organized.

Deployment Flowchart

To me, a deployment flowchart is used to solve the “No longer my responsibility” problem. Sometimes, people know very well about their work but they do not have a full picture of the whole process from start to end. A deployment flowchart can help organize that and improves cooperation among teams. Usually, it is less detailed at department levels. It is a higher-level chart.

PERT Diagram

PERT diagram is used to visualize dependencies between tasks. It is particularly useful in project management since you can know what tasks can be done in parallel. For example, in the following chart, tasks 3 and 5 can be done in parallel since they both depend on task 4 and have no dependency between them. And task 2,3,4,5,6 all together take 10 days.

Cause-and-Effect Diagram

Cause-and-effect diagram is used to visualize cause and effect relationship. In the following the final rectangle is the effect of interesting. The branches are the potential causes of that effect.

All in all, the tools and techniques listed above help you understand the current processes and systems.

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