Visual Process Innovation: Phase 2 – Future State

The Future State phase visually maps the new process from beginning to end. That sounds simple enough, but getting that map right is critical and difficult.


The Future State phase visually maps the new process from beginning to end. That sounds simple enough, but getting that map right is both critical and difficult.


What is Future State Mapping?

One of the reasons Lean is so successful is that it intensively maps the value stream from end-to-end. We’ve developed a similar mapping approach to clearly visualize the human interactions that are critical to making any process effective.


We bring all of the key stakeholders into a room in a discovery session to literally map each step on a wall. It’s crucial to make sure the right people are in the room. The people who actually know the process best will know where the bottlenecks might be and where there are opportunities for easy improvements. A multi-disciplinary group of stakeholders allows organizations to get a holistic look at the process and not just focus on a few areas that are obviously broken.


We look to design the process from beginning to end, including all of the handoffs and interactions that need to take place along the way. It is these vital human relationships that are important to making the Future State a success in the workplace, and Visual Process Innovation brings those to life.


Why is mapping the Future State important?

Most processes get hung up on the human side of process. The handoffs, collaboration points, or routine changes that are required to make a process improvement initiative successful need to be understood by the people involved. Visually mapping these fundamental convergence points is one of the keys to success.


When leaders and employees can both clearly see what they are supposed to do, why they should change, and how they fit into the picture, they can begin to change. That’s when organizations see and feel the benefit of process change.



Future State Mapping: In a workshop with the key stakeholders, map the future state by asking key questions: What is the action? Who takes action and how is this accomplished? What is the output and what is the handoff to the next step? By the end of the discovery session, the map will help people clearly understand what they need to do.


Paper Prototyping: To see the process in action, paper prototyping using hand-sketched drawings allows teams to test a new process with different stakeholder groups. It’s a quick and effective way to examine a process improvement plan from different perspectives and refine the process before making big investments.

Best Practices and Benchmarking: It can be important to research industry best practices to understand where organizations might find gaps and opportunities to improve, what objectives should be priorities, and gauge customer expectations. This helps set benchmarks and objectives so organizations adopt the best thinking.

Plus / Delta Opportunity Mapping: Building from the current state, stakeholders map what’s working and where those tactics and activities could reap benefits in the process. Then, they map opportunities to improve drawing on their own experience with how the process works day-to-day to create an improved Future State.

Cynthia Owens is a Senior Consultant at XPLANE.

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November 23, 2016
Dave King