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The Visible Model

Visibility is a wonderful thing.  Great to have when navigating tricky situations like the annual family picnic where Aunt Velma, apparently at war with Cousin Millie over the title for “World’s Greatest Apple Pie”, unceremoniously lobs her orthopedic shoe at your head for one unfortunate misstep. If only you could have known what you were walking into…

Process Models, an integral part of an enterprise model, are much more than just maps or diagrams.  They are a definite case where clear visibility needs to come into play especially as they relate to other initiatives across the company.  They have multiple dimensions.  The more complex the model, the more dimensions it has and the more it touches key parts of the business.  So, capturing a specific process model and relating it to a model of the enterprise enables visibility into the business when data from across the enterprise is used for reporting.

However, there are many facets and viewpoints within a single Process Model.  It’s crucial for the Process Owner to be able to visualize and understand these facets for the purpose of identifying problem areas, opportunities for optimization, and maintenance.  Looking at the Process Diagram is extremely useful (and with more kinds of interpretable decorative indicators the better the understanding), but even with excellent diagramming standards like BPMN, dimensions like version history, model hierarchy, links to supporting notes and documentation, custom properties, etc., they are not easily visualized or comprehended through a strictly graphical viewpoint.

To achieve the type of transparency needed to communicate all the subtleties of a complex model, a more expansive approach is needed.  This is where the nifty concept of a Model Narrative comes into play.  Think of it as cross sections of the model laid out in a document which tells the story of the entire model, giving full visibility into important aspects of the model which so often goes unseen.  This Model Narrative is editable, publishable and contains hyperlinks to other related data so that it can be used for navigation as well.  The Model Narrative tells the full story of the process, with all its complexity and glory, all in one place. 

The Model Narrative is a huge asset.  Without it, and the type of transparency it brings, aspects of a Process Model may remain unseen, and so many opportunities for optimization will fall by the wayside.  A Model Narrative gives you the visibility you need to avoid some potentially dicey situations and take advantage of opportunity by providing a cross-sectional view into all desired dimensions – truly transforming a Process Model into the Visible Model.

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