Volume 50, May 2005: Pictures of Processes

Keyzine: An E-zine for Leaders about the People Side of Business

This is a monthly electronic magazine for anyone who wants to be a better leader, coach, facilitator, or simply, to tune up their people skills. It is a complimentary publication, devoted to the next evolution of Quality Thinking.

Publisher: © Key Associates, LLC, 2005 ISSN # 1545-8873

“If you do not know how to describe what you are doing as a process, you do not know what you are doing.” — W. Edwards Deming

“There are as many different versions of a process, as there are authors of the flowchart.” — M. K. Key

“We should work on our processes, not the outcome of our processes.” — W. Edwards Deming


  • What’s Hot in Leadership
  • Maintaining Yourself as a Leader
  • Frequently Asked Questions from Leaders
  • Educational Opportunities
  • Useful Websites & Newsletters
  • Articles/Publications

What’s Hot in Leadership

  • Viewing work as process.
  • Looking for process flaws before blaming people.
  • Modeling customer-mindedness and wise stewardship of resources.
  • Seeking to remove waste and non-value-adding activity in order to streamline and create efficiency.

Maintaining Yourself as a Leader

As leaders, we are great inspectors. People bring us numbers, problems, and outcomes to analyze and affix causation (sometimes “fault”), therefore remedy. We inspect, with the aim of finding the bad causes and eliminating them. This is too late, ineffective, and costly. You cannot inspect quality into a process. As Dr. Deming said, “Quality comes not from inspection but from improvement of the process.” We must view our work as process, designed to delight customers. And the best way to examine a process is to draw a picture of it – i.e., flowchart. (Many people have incorporated flowcharts as job descriptions and as depictions of policies and procedures.) Begin by examining your own processes and customers, with mind to making your work serve those who depend on you for their work. You are not the judge; you are an integral part of a system, composed of multitudes of processes.

Frequently Asked Questions

“How do you begin finding processes to work on?”
Ask the customers. Employees know. Lift the ban on discussing “sacred cows,” and ask which processes are cumbersome, known displeasers, full of Complexity, Redundancy, Unnecessary Steps, and Delays (CRUD™).
“If the customer is the judge of quality of processes, how do we access what the customers observe?”
Don Berwick of IHI has described this as “The Walk of Shame.” The Picker Institute has also done a film called “Through the Patient’s Eyes.” Be a customer of your business (mystery shopper). Or accompany a customer, as they march through the process, counting the number of people they meet, the number of hand-offs, the times information is repeated, the delays and waiting intervals, the hassles and inconveniences – called a “process walk-through.”
“How do you measure a process?”
  • Number of process steps
  • Number of hand-offs
  • Waiting/delay intervals
  • Decision-points
  • Pathway options
  • Number of individuals handling the work
  • Training required
  • Cycle time
  • Transparency to customer
  • Quality
  • Duplications
  • Number of departments involved
  • Jobs
  • Cost
  • Value-Added/Non-Value-Added Steps
  • Throughput time
  • Inventory

Tally these pre- and post-improvements, for a measure of change.

“Aren’t there different types of flowcharts?”
Here are some pictorial examples:

There is ample software to draw your flowcharts, but I highly recommend manual charting with Post-its first: 3 X 5’s for action steps and boundaries, 3 X 3’s turned for questions, and tiny ones for connectors. Or use Post-it precut flowchart symbols: Flaire


Key Associates offers a course on Creative Tools and Methods for Innovation.

Good tutorial, some missing links: http://isds.bus.lsu.edu/cvoc/learn/bpr/cprojects/spring1998/modeling/flowchart.html.

Some interesting white papers: .

Another good tutorial: Basic Tools for Process Improvement.

Related Key-zines: Keeping Customers, Lean Does Not Have to Be Mean, and Employees as Customers.

Useful Websites & Newsletters

Software buyers guide: Flowcharting & Process Simulation Software Buyers Guide.

Amazon.com's inventory of software: Amazon Flowcharts.

Allclear Flowcharter.

MS Excel Templates: Systems2win.

Graham Process Flowcharting: Graham Process Mapping Software.


PathMaker: Flowcharting.



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