Visual Process Innovation: Introduction

A healthy process is the lifeblood of any organization. It impacts everything from efficiency and quality to customer satisfaction and employee happiness.

A healthy process is the lifeblood of any organization. It impacts everything from efficiency and quality to customer satisfaction and employee happiness. Yet despite its importance, nearly all organizations struggle to create and maintain healthy and effective processes.

Our Approach

There is no shortage of process design methodologies.

Many are intended for specific contexts of use (e.g., manufacturing, digital, services, etc.) while others can be applied more generally.

XPLANE’s approach is unique in that it has grown out of years of visualizing thousands of complex processes for clients as varied as Microsoft, Merrill Lynch, BP, Nike, AT&T, Disney, the U.S. Marine Corps, and many more. As such, our approach is industry- and topic-agnostic, but we specialize in people-oriented processes and articulating the nuances of the human interactions that are critical to the effectiveness of any process.

We call our approach Visual Process Innovation, and it uses a framework and toolbox approach rather than a strict playbook, enabling us to be adaptive to any context. It includes six core principles:

Visual Thinking:

Boxes and arrows do little to make a process

truly visual. Nothing creates clarity and

understanding like visualizing the actual

steps of a process.


People support what they help build. This is

especially true in process design. It is key to

building the right process and vital to alignment

and buy in.

Additive + Eliminative

Improving a process is not always about just

cutting costs. It is almost always a combination

of adding and eliminating the right elements.

Methodology Agnostic:

We do not subscribe to any one method but may

draw elements from other selectively. At times

ad hoc and at times adopting and modifying

them into our core practice.


Process never exists in a vacuum. The ripple

effect of changes has to be taken into account

and managed or people will resist change and

process improvement will likely fail.


It is not enough to define a new and improved

process – although this is where many process

plans end. The changes must be effectively

deployed into the organization

to ensure success.

Our Process

Our process follows five phases as outlined in the included overview map and listed below.

  1. Current State – visual mapping of the current state of an existing process
  2. Future State – ideation, prototyping, and visual mapping of the planned future state
  3. Validate – socializing and stress testing a process prior to activation for improvement
  4. Activate – deploying the process into the organization or system
  5. Embed–ensuring the process takes hold and improving it

We know our approach is different from what many process people are used to or may even feel they need in order to do their work. We understand that. This approach is not for everyone or for every situation. But over 22 years, we have found it works remarkably well across a wide range of settings and is truly effective in getting people onto the same page about how a process does–or should–work.

Download the Hi Res Visual Process Innovation Map!

Related Posts:

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Triggering Change Using Three Words

November 23, 2016
Dave King