Supporting process implementation with the help of tangible process models

Susanne Menges, Thomas Russack

Situation faced: Companies invest considerable resources in the elaborate design of computer-based process models. Because of these models’ inherent complexity, they are not necessarily suitable for communicating with and training the employees who are supposed to apply them, but their understanding the processes is essential for efficient and effective work. Hence, creative, innovative methods are needed to bring these abstract models to life and increase their adoption by employees who typically have a low affinity for IT-related tools. Therefore, the methods that are developed should require little previous knowledge, (ideally) should not be IT-based, and should stimulate creativity, collaboration, and discussion. They should also create a playful experience while still offering guidance and overview of existing processes.

Action taken: The company considered in this case searched for new, playful ways of communicating existing processes to employees who have little knowledge about process operations or process management. Two methods, a process card game and a process board game, were chosen and implemented. The card game conveys the most important process steps and process characteristics in a playful manner, providing a positive experience for the training participants and, thus, being memorable. The process board game complements the card game by conveying deeper knowledge about, for example, incidents that had in the past had positive or critical influences on the process. Both methods were developed in theory, both have been implemented as prototypes, and both have been tested in training new employees and during simulations, after which they were evaluated based on predefined requirements.

Results achieved: The participants in the training were interviewed orally and in written form to evaluate the methods’ benefits. Feedback from the trainers was included as well. These participants evaluated the methods positively, as both the participants and the trainers attested to the methods’ ability to provoke discussions and stimulate creativity. Both methods are applicable to a variety of processes with reasonable effort.

Lessons learned: Creative models demand the ability to abstract from business processes that are normally filled with details, so a clear business outcome and target group must be in mind when the new methods are first set up. However, since they do not provide a complete presentation of a process, additional methods should be used as complements. It is advisable to focus on one process that matters most to the target group at the beginning and to concentrate on the basic process features while designing the creative methods. Moreover, the degree of creativity should fit the company and its corporate culture.

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