In 25 years of mapping businesses of every size, shape and type, we have seen many unusual business processes, from mapping Iraqi election logistics for the Bush administration to relocating Llamas in Bolivia. One of my favorite stories illustrating the value of this hands-on experience comes from Art & Fear - Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking.
Make a Lot of Pots....
A pottery teacher split her class into two halves.
To the first half she said, "You will spend the semester studying pottery, planning, designing, and creating your perfect pot. At the end of the semester, there will be a competition to see who's pot is the best".
To the other half she said, "You will spend your semester making lots of pots. Your grade will be based on the number of completed pots you finish. At the end of the semester, you'll also have the opportunity to enter your best pot into a competition."
The first half of the class threw themselves into their research, planning, and design. Then they set about creating their one, perfect pot for the competition.
The second half of the class immediately grabbed fistfuls of clay and started churning out pots. They made big ones, small ones, simple ones, and intricate ones. Their muscles ached for weeks as they gained the strength needed to throw so many pots.
At the end of class, both halves were invited to enter their most perfect pot into the competition.
Once the votes were counted, all of the best pots came from the students that were tasked with quantity. The practice they gained made them significantly better potters than the planners on a quest for a single, perfect pot.
In life, the best way to learn a skill is to make a lot of pots.
Map a Lot of Businesses....
In business, the best way to improve workflow is to map a lot of businesses.
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