Map 1I’m sure that most of you have used Google Maps but for the luddites amongst us, here is a description.

Google Maps is software that provides location information through satellite imagery. Think of it as an interactive street directory that knows where you are. As well as telling you how to get there, it checks possible routes and landmarks for faster travel time. This can make your journey easier and help locate businesses, venues and private addresses that you are not familiar with.

So what does that have to do with agility? It’s simple. Every time you enter a destination into Google Maps it works out where you are now.  When it comes to travel, it’s pretty obvious that in planning to reach your destination the two most important things you need to know are:

1.       Where you are now.

2.       Where you want to go to.

If you don’t know where you are now it will take an awful lot of time, effort and petrol to get to where you want to be. It also creates arguments. You know, the sort you have in the car with your partner when you are lost. It also prevents you from having to ask strangers for directions which can result in conversations like this (true story) –

Me: Excuse me, but could you please tell me how to get to Mills Sports Park?
Stranger: yes, of course. Do you know where Sundowner Road is?
Me: no, I don’t know this area very well at all.
Stranger: well you turn right about 1 km before you reach Sundowner Road.

The same applies at work. Many organisations have a mission and vision statement, they have organisational objectives, and a strategic plan. In other words, they have information on where they want to be in the future.

But to get there, organisations need to change / improve their processes, and 99.9% of the time we rely on teams, not individuals, to improve processes. What is the first thing the team does? They try to gain a common understanding of the process they want to improve as it exists now. How long does this take? Well, if the as-is process is already documented it takes a few minutes. If not, it will take several to many meetings spread over weeks, it will cause a lot of debate, and take a lot of effort.

You can see where I’m going with this (apologies for the pun). I firmly believe, in fact I think it is obvious – that clear, concise, “documented” processes make organisations MORE agile, not less. They provide a common understanding of where we are now thus enabling us to reach our destination faster, more efficiently, and with fewer arguments!

I’ve placed “documented” in quotation marks because there is some fabulous software out there for that. It makes processes easy to understand and easy to update – simplifying process mapping so business teams can own and improve their own processes. Check it out here.

All the best – Liz