How To Run Process Mapping Workshops That Get Results

Imagine sitting in a dimly lit conference room, eyes glazing over as you attempt to follow along with a disorganised process mapping workshop. The facilitator seems unprepared, and everyone’s disengaged, unsure of the workshop’s purpose or objectives.

“What are we even doing here?”, everyone wonders in unison.

This is a scenario that too many organisations have experienced, leading to wasted time and resources. Thankfully, running a business process workshop where everyone is on the same page, having contributed equally and understanding their assignments isn’t that hard to achieve with the right steps.

Conducting a successful business process mapping workshop is vital for organisations aiming to enhance efficiency, streamline operations, and cut costs. In this article, drawing from my experience in facilitating hundreds of workshops, I’ll share valuable insights to help you unlock the potential of your workshops and drive meaningful change within your organisation.


Before the Workshop

Good preparation is key to success. To make sure your process mapping workshop goes well, start by knowing your goals, gathering important information, and outlining the workshop’s focus. This careful planning helps create a well-organised and useful workshop, leading to better results for your organisation.

Provide Clear Objectives
To run successful process mapping workshops, it’s essential to have a good understanding of the processes under discussion. Using process architecture as a reference can be helpful in identifying which processes are relevant to the stakeholders in the room.

Process architecture is a visual representation of your business’s current processes, providing a high-level overview of where the bottlenecks may be. By having a visual workflow, you can tailor the workshop to the participants’ needs and the organisation’s priorities.

Before the workshop, it’s important to clearly define the goals and objectives. This helps everyone understand the workshop’s direction and desired outcomes, encouraging active engagement from all participants.

Aligning the objectives with the organisation’s goals is vital to ensure that the workshop contributes to the overall strategic direction.

Provide an Agenda Beforehand
A detailed agenda outlining the topics to be covered during the workshop is essential. Share the agenda with all participants to keep everyone informed and engaged. By including breaks and time for discussions, participants can manage their energy levels and maintain focus, increasing the workshop’s effectiveness.

Select a Facilitator
Choosing a facilitator with experience leading workshops and understanding the organisation’s processes is crucial. An impartial, neutral facilitator who can manage conflicts creates an environment where participants feel comfortable sharing their ideas. Excellent communication skills are necessary to ensure that all participants can contribute effectively and feel heard, fostering collaboration and innovation.


During the Workshop

Preparation matters, but workshops are dynamic. Participants will bring diverse ideas to the table. Strive for maximum participation while maintaining moderation.

Provide Training
Before the workshop, it’s crucial to offer training on process mapping methodology and tools to ensure that everyone is on the same page. This includes the language used around certain processes and agreeing on what terms to use. Effective communication is vital, and establishing a standardised way for all stakeholders to communicate helps avoid misunderstandings and confusion.

Getting familiar with process mapping methodology and tools will streamline the workshop as well. For example, teach participants how to use flowchart software like Skore or BIC to map out processes visually.

Since the primary goal of a process mapping workshop is to identify improvement areas, the facilitator must collect accurate and valuable feedback from all participants. Sharing best practices for giving feedback, such as being specific, concise, and to the point, can significantly impact the workshop’s overall outcome.

Model as we go
Incorporating software during the workshop, rather than waiting until the end, can greatly improve efficiency and streamline communication with stakeholders.

By using the process mapping software throughout the session, you create a real-time output that’s ready for immediate sharing. As a result, you reduce the time taken to communicate the workshop’s results and enable stakeholders to provide prompt feedback.

The value of prompt feedback is due to its freshness. Stakeholders are more likely to provide accurate and valuable input when ideas and suggestions are still top of mind. If you wait too long to share the output, the opportunity to receive the most beneficial feedback may narrow as details fade from stakeholders’ memories.

Utilise a parking lot
A practical way to maintain focus during a workshop is to utilise a “parking lot” for topics or concerns that emerge but don’t align with the agenda. This method enables you to address these issues without straying from the workshop’s primary goals.

A parking lot is essentially a list of items requiring attention but allocated for follow-up after the workshop. By adding non-agenda related items to the parking lot, you ensure the workshop stays focused and productive. This approach also allows participants to voice their concerns without interrupting the discussion’s flow.

After the workshop ends, review and assign the parking lot items to the appropriate team members for further action so no vital issue is left unaddressed. Additionally, ask for feedback on the models created during the workshop. This feedback helps refine the models, ensuring they accurately represent the processes being mapped.

Encourage Participation
Encouraging all participants to actively participate in the workshop is crucial for generating diverse ideas and perspectives. Ensuring that everyone has an opportunity to contribute and share their ideas leads to a more comprehensive understanding of the processes being mapped. Using various techniques, such as brainstorming and group discussions, helps to create an inclusive and engaging environment.

Take Notes
Assign someone to take accurate notes during the workshop. This person will be responsible for capturing essential information and sending the notes to participants afterward. Having a designated note-taker ensures that all ideas and discussions are documented, allowing participants to focus on the workshop content and refer back to the notes later.


After the Workshop

After the workshop, the real work begins. To ensure the success of your process mapping workshop and its lasting impact, it’s essential to focus on reviewing and consolidating information, following up on parking lot items, and collecting valuable feedback. By addressing these key areas, you’ll foster a continuous improvement culture within your organisation, making sure that the workshop’s outcomes lead to tangible, long-term benefits. In the following sections, we’ll explore each of these aspects in greater detail.

Review and Consolidate Info
Identifying areas for improvement and developing an action plan is essential for driving positive change after the workshop. Communicating the outcomes to all participants and stakeholders keeps everyone informed and engaged in the improvement process. Monitoring progress and providing ongoing support helps to ensure that the action plan is implemented effectively, leading to tangible improvements in organisational processes.

Follow up on parking lot
Post-workshop, it’s vital to address the items listed in the parking lot. These issues may have been deemed non-urgent during the session but still require attention. Assign responsibilities and deadlines to relevant team members for each item, and schedule a follow-up meeting to ensure progress is being made.

By effectively handling parking lot tasks, you’ll demonstrate your commitment to continuous improvement and reinforce the value of the workshop to all participants.

Collect feedback you discussed during workshop
Gathering feedback from attendees is crucial for evaluating the success of your process mapping workshop and identifying areas for improvement in future sessions. Distribute a feedback form or survey to all participants, encouraging them to share their thoughts on the workshop’s content, facilitation, and overall effectiveness.

Analyse the responses to identify trends and common themes, and use this information to fine-tune your approach for subsequent workshops. By listening to and acting on participant feedback, you’ll continually refine your workshop experience and enhance its impact on your organisation.


Embrace the Learning Process: Efficiency over Perfection

As you embark on facilitating process mapping workshops, it’s important to understand that it’s not about achieving perfection or getting everything right. The primary focus should be on gathering information efficiently and adopting a lean approach to process improvement.

Remember that the ultimate goal of process mapping workshops is to create a collaborative environment where all stakeholders can contribute their ideas and feedback. Embrace the learning curve, approach each workshop with an open mind, and be ready to adapt and refine your techniques. By doing so, you’ll pave the way for successful workshops that deliver meaningful results and drive positive change within your organisation.