Mapping: Tricks of the Trade

If you don't "map" it, you won't remember it. Visualizing then mapping what you observe at work will help you remember what you observed, to be able to share it with those you work work with. What is mapping? Nothing less than scribbling, or doodling, but instead of your imagination, you are drawing what you saw when in a kind of meditative state:  doodling the "REAL."

I will be sharing a whole nest of secrets involving charts, diagrams and visual thinking in my weekly Tricks of the Trade newsletter and here in the blog, don't worry! We see things more completely and faster with pictures, but the point is not pretty pictures, it is to solve problems. Mapping is zen-like, blindingly simple, used to capture insights in their raw form. Makes you look like a genius.

Here are some examples of "Mapping" I have done. After I will share with you the name of a great book which can help you with  doodling better. ​


The point is to do them while you SimplyLook™, then use them with your team, or fellow workers, or employees, or whatever working jargon you prefer: for understanding and finding permanent solutions to nagging problems. They don't have to be technically good, they just have to work. If they are technically perfect, you probably missed something when doing them. Later you can take them and put them in a fancier format if you need to.

The following example was done when SimplyLooking™ at a Process Line as part of a training. Six people simplylooked™ and drew these scribbles. They asked themselves the questions I mentioned in my last secret, last week, and used these doodles to note where they saw what they asked themselves. Really good dialogue and improvements came afterwards.

A quick doodle of a process line for understanding.

This one was of a SimplyLooking done to track the movement of Forklifts through a plant. The rather silly lines represent the path of the forklifts and its journey in one location in the plant in about an hour. It is a traffic map, a kind of flow chart. It was used in a process that led to a completely new way to use the forklifts, saving wear and tear, cutting back the number of forklifts needed, and putting real money to the bottom line.

A traffic pattern Mapping of forklifts in a factory

Here's another, done during a training a client as doing, that was supposed to be collaborative. From it, it was obvious to the manager running it that everyone was only talking to him, instead of to each other. We shared it with the attendees as well, and they were surprised. Things changed and became more interactive between everyone thereafter. (It was shown upside down for effect.)

Mapping of communication patterns

The point is, you can see things more clearly, and build theories to test, improvements to be tried, and communicate them more easily, if you map while simply looking. Next we will look at one of the most important tools in digesting what you saw and mapped: The fishbone. Really!

This week I will share a little video on a map that was done and how it saved a company money. I did the rather funky animation, but the original work was done by the employees, using a traffic map.​

About the Author

Dan Strongin works with medium to small companies, helping them master the art and science of managing.