Describing and Documenting Processes for Downstream Purposes

Describing and Documenting Processes
I prefer to use 2 or 3 levels of description and documentation for Processes.

I don’t like having to jump right into a long, long Process Map – usually the “swim lane variety” – a.k.a.: the “Rummler-Brache Map” that in-truth Geary Rummler has been using in his consulting practices going back into the 1960s in workshops at the University of Michigan.

I have maps from Praxis – where Tom Gilbert and Geary were partners – in the mid-1970s. Geary always squeezes so much detail into his descriptions of Processes that the late Claude (Butch) Lineberry joked that Rummler invented the size point 4 font.

I use a different approach than Geary does, having learned first from derivatives from his work, that were again used to derive newer models, methods, tools, templates and techniques.

I use 2 or 3 levels to define processes for my downstream purposes – in both my PACT Processes (my ISD methods and processes) and the “parent” EPPI Processes (my performance improvement methods and processes).

The 3 levels that I might use – or from whence the 2 levels I usually use come from:

1- Big Block Diagram
2- Swim Lane Map
3- Performance Model

The Big Block Diagram

The Swim Lane Map
The Rummler Process Map is used in many organizations. Where they have them I use them – to frame my own Performance Models – where I get an additional level of detail necessary to my downstream needs.

Every Client situation I have been in that involved the Client’s available Swim Lane Maps I was able to show them example Performance and K/S data that convinced them that we would need to leverage their Process Maps further. If they “get” Process Maps they usually immediately “get” Performance Models.

Performance Model
I’ve been using this “frame” since August of 1979. It has evolved style-wise over the years – mainly due to evolving documentation devises – IBM Selectric typewriters to MACs and dot matrix printers to then laser printers…to today’s tools.

I Usually Only Use 2 of These 3
As I believe/know that the Performance Model captures a grater set of detail, a richer set, than the Process Map – I often skip that level in defining processes. But not always.

In some projects it is appropriate to use all three levels of definition/documentation of Processes.

When? When what you are trying to capture is very complex, long, and of high risk and/or high reward.

The performance model for me is the richest way to display process/performance for my EPPI and PACT needs. It defines ideal performance on the left-side and captures a gap analysis of the right side. Of course this presumes that you have people performing at a level of mastery that you wish you could get everyone else to. Sometimes there are no master performers – and you need to invent a new approach, process, etc.

At the Big Block Diagram Level
I use this level as an advanced organizer – as the initial introduction to the process details – to frame the reviewers thinking about what they are going to see. Sometimes it takes two levels of Block Diagrams – see the example in the second graphic of this Post – were you see the 4 Phases of CAD and then the breakdown/breakout of 4 “blocks” within the first phase.

The next example is from my fictitious “case company” TMC Stores – THE Most Convenient Stores. It is for a store manager. We call these “blocks” Areas of Performance – intended to frame the remaining analysis data.

This next example is from fictitious case company 2: The American Boat & Canoe Company (ABC). A Sales Rep job covering many states and many stores/outlets for the ABC product lines.

This is a second level view of AoPs (Areas of Performance) within a Sales job. The following comes from a real project where we first defined the sales process – which we new was central to the job and everyone needed to see that defined appropriately first – and then we could explore/define the remaining part of the whole job.

Gap Analysis with a Performance Model

First define ideal performance in the first two columns…

Then define the typical problems/gaps (IF ANY – DON’T DESCRIBE “A-TYPICAL” as “TYPICAL“!!!!).

Lastly quickly assess “why” – unless you have unlimited time and you can explore typical problems for “root-causes” and then I would reword the headers on the PM Chart – and remove the weasel words that I use as I do not usually have time in my meetings/processes to get to root causes – after all I am often developing training for the real world – and not some blue sky construct imagined by “trainers” where tasks are as easy as 1-2-3!

If your downstream need is to improve processes – as in my EPPI Process methods – then you can do a first pass with this – and then target further inspection for root causes as the REWARDs and RISKs of the situation dictate as prudent focus of time and money.

Deriving the Enablers of Processes and of Human Performance
In both EPPI and PACT we use the Performance Model to systematically derive the enablers, both the Human enablers and non-Human enablers. This next graphic is about our approach to deriving the enabling Knowledge/Skills in the PACT Process.

The EPPI Processes uses a similar method to look for the non-Human enablers, the Environmental Assets that are required to enable peak performance.

Other Uses/Utilities of the Performance Model
Some of the other uses for data that comes from the Performance Model and the K/S and other enablers includes:
– defining the “Murphys” to use in skills development (via Training/ Learning/ Knowledge Management, etc.) from the gap analysis of the typical performance gaps.
– development of certification instruments
– development of Job Descriptions and Recruiting tools/tests/etc.
– development of 360 assessments
– design of organizational entities (functions/departments/teams/etc.)

For more about the Performance Model – search this Blog and the web site at – the same cyber-space places to look for more about both EPPI and PACT.

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