Why worry about "Scope and Intent" before mapping?

Many people want to just dive into mapping what happens in various functions or situations. Stop and think. Why are you mapping? It is very easy to just sit down with a group of people and start capturing how stuff works in a particular area, function, or established process name.

With innovative people, it’s then pretty natural to start coming up with ideas to improve how things work and hey presto: an improved process! Great? Not necessarily. Who are the customers of the process? What would they want this process to deliver? What do they consider as “value added”? What are the objectives of the process?

If you’re using an approach like Lean or 6-Sigma then you have all this covered with well documented, proven methods and approaches which will help you define your diagram scope and, most importantly, its intent.

In any case, spend 5-10 minutes before you start to ask two questions:

  1. What is the scope of this process? (Where does it start, where does it stop?)

  2. What is the intent for this scope of process? (Desired outcomes, “value added” from a customer perspective, Critical Success Factors. etc)

The answer to Q1: defines your starting inputs and ending outputs. “We are only mapping from A to G”. Do you even have the right people involved to cover that? Note who you should share this content with for their input and ideas. Invite them to the map any time during or after the session.

The answer to Q2: capture (and update) those thoughts in the context of the diagram. Click on the "open right sidebar" icon at the top of your diagram editor window, and click underneath "diagram intent". Having them visible (and current) in the diagram context keeps everyone focused, challenges the status quo, and inspires ideas for those who see this Process Knowledge content later. (Note: if this is the top-level of an organization, the intent should be the strategic objectives and CSFs for the organization. Your operational processes should be aligned to deliver them.)

If you’re not all in the same room, Elements is designed to help you get the same dynamic as being in a visual workshop together. So, if you are on different screens in different locations, you can use the "stickies" and paste them in space on the canvas before you start. (In Edit Mode on a diagram, shift-double click in a space or drag them off the left panel.) You can always evolve them and then copy the INTENT into the right panel on a diagram – the scope should be taken care of by the first input(s) and last output(s).

You open the right side-bar by clicking on the following icon in the top bar: 

Intent is on the "DETAILS" tab. Click underneath "intent for diagram".

Note: One way to think of intent is from its use in the military. The “Commanders Intent” (click to link to Wikipedia overview): “The commander’s intent succinctly describes what constitutes success for the operation. It includes the operation’s purpose and the conditions that define the end state.”

The principle is this: if all else fails, situations totally change, the orders and contingency plans don’t work the way they were supposed to, what are the few key objectives of the plan that every person involved is not allowed to forget? Under any circumstances. The commander's intent.

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