When your looking to encourage your staff to take the first steps into continuous improvement there can be a number of barriers that present themselves this can include knowledge of both what to do and how to do it – this is often symbolised by an apparent lack of tools readily available to them.

For me, one of the fundamental foundations for any improvement project is process knowledge and that starts with documenting what you do (often referred to as current state process). Mapping what you do enables the process to be assessed by yourself and others (in a standard way) facilitating finding and then deploying improvement opportunities.

But where do you start, if your looking to get your workforce engaged? For me I’ve often looked at training (at a basic level) key members of the workforce (or more if I’m able) in the basics of process mapping – this key stage in documenting what’s done all too often gets them questioning why things happen in the way they do and the mere fact that they can take part can help enormously in stakeholder engagement.

A perceived lack of tools doesn’t present too much of a problem – with a rudimentary understanding of flow chart symbols simple flow charts can be created using just paper and pencil with relative ease and if you have access to a basic office software package its relatively simple to create process flow charts in excel, or flow charts in word through using the inbuilt shapes and functionality that come pre-installed with the package.

Having a tool that is relatively simple to deploy, easy to understand and yet can produce really powerful results should not be overlooked. For many organizations getting teams or functions to become responsible for the documentation of their processes (often via flow charts) is one of the fundamental steps as it creates ownership – without which you’ll struggle to improve anything.

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