A Spaghetti Map is a visual depiction of a physical work flow borrowed from the Lean Manufacturing world. Its primary function is to map, and subsequently revise, processes. By performing this exercise you will measure distance and duration, and more importantly, visualize the patterns your processes take.
Traffic Managers for creative agencies:
Imagine your job bag had an RFID chip in it and you were able to see exactly where it travelled through your organization like a route planned on Google Maps. The resulting lines that criss-cross your organization would end up looking like a glob of cooked spaghetti.
How to perform this exercise
- Procure a floor plan of your office
- Your IT folks may have one handy as a network diagram
- MS Visio and Omnigraffle also have prefab tools available
- Populate the map with departments
- Try and refrain from drawing funny characters at this step like trolls and such
- Measure the routes
- Have a pedometer?
- This step may be overkill if you are in a small office
- You then play connect the dots
- Track the route your project travels through your organization
- Analyze the results
- You’re looking for redundancy and areas of overlap
- Take action on the results
- Trim your processes accordingly
In the example I have illustrated I did a quick sketch of a multi-round marketing collateral project. I also presupposed the client was waiting in foyer–not likely to happen but I’ve seen stranger. I used Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow as rounds 1, 2, and 3 of creative iterations.
The exercise is completed when you look for redundancy or areas that can be handled better. Spaghetti Diagraming is designed to streamline messy processes into leaner processes. Cut the fat. If a process step is not a value-add to your client or your constituents, then it needs to go. In the example above, maybe this particular creative agency should get a smaller table for their Conference Room 2 before someone has a bad accident.
In this fictional organization, I’ve taken the liberty of doing some “Seiton” which is Japanese for “Straightening Out”. I’ve put the Project Management Office team members as gatekeepers to the entire creative staff. This will prevent the executives from going directly to the artists without looping-in the Project and Traffic Managers. We can see almost all the traffic conglomerates there which is a good thing.
This exercise may lead to some re-engineering of your process. It is not likely the physical space is a big deal in your firm, but who knows, seeing a diagram of your workflow may surprise you. And, maybe, just maybe, you’ll get a some increased efficiency out of the deal by simplifying your physical processes. Happy diagraming!
As always, feel free to comment and let me know what you think. Unless you’re an IT person who wants to complain about having to deal with requests for floor plans.