May 18, 2011 Make Process Docs More Storyboard, Less Schematic
PS is the Army’s way of making the maintenance of very complicated and dangerous equipment easy to understand.
I love PS because they’ve figured out a way to do the following:
- Make process visual
- Communicate difficult concepts in easy to understand terms
In business process management (BPM) world, business process notation is one way to make process visual, as are swimlane diagrams, process flows, decision trees.
What I love about PS is that PS knows its audience and engages the reader, and acheives the same goals as BPM in gaining process management and efficiencies, but in a very natural way.
For the Processs Geek, PS is the best process read you’ll ever have. Why? Because PS is a Comic.
Here’s what works with PS:
All pictures except the BPN picture are from PS Issue 702, May 2011
Big chunky breakdowns of process with pictures
This type of visual is easy to grasp. This is a process flow about how to mount a gun. There’s Step 1, which has three possible decisions points 1a, 1b, 1c and then there’s Step 2. Each step has a picture and notational direction.
Compare that to this:
Personification of Objects
The artifacts come alive – they have likes and dislikes. This is somehow easier to grasp than a long list of Do’s and Don’ts.
Multiple User Characters
There are multiple types of machine users and people on base who interact with the process. Each one gets thier own persona. So instead of swimlanes on a diagram, we actually see the person, give them a name and watch how they interact with the process.
Dialogue of Process Interactions
Process is demonstrated through dialogue- the scene is acted out, and the users verbally describe how and what they do in the process. Compare this to task boxes on a process flow diagram.
And one thing I learned from my audience at a presentation I gave on BPM for Small Business; start with the picture first, then work back through the process.
My instinct is to give someone a documented process visual – swimlane or something of the sort, and then documented process steps that correspond to that document.
But what PS teaches, and what my attendees taught me, is that you start with the picture of what you’re trying to achieve, then introduce the schematics.
It’s like when you go to Ikea – you pick the design you like, take it home, and then you follow the process doc. If we ordered furniture using process docs, Ikea would go out of business.
So wouldn’t it be cool if we could produce process documents like this – more storyboard and less schematic?