Just a couple of weeks back I talked about how you can work backwards from corporate records to get a clearer view of the high-level business processes being run in an organization. The approach here basically was saying that if you can identify the records of business transactions in an organization (and in any fairly mature organization this should be relatively easy), you can step backwards through the processes that created them, avoiding all the rat-holes and exceptions that muddy the picture. This is great, but what happens when you don't have a clear view of where records are created? Well, this is where I'm going to aim for a quick win and get "two for one". And, yes there is a reason for the incredible animated image.
As you are reading this, bear in mind that I have the benefit of working with a financial services firm as my client of the moment. This tends to make things easier for me, since the regulators have always insisted on a decent structure for record keeping that means I'm not working from a completely blank page when trying to identify records. But still it is true that many firms don't have a corporate file structure that shows a heat-map of where records are produced and what they contain. So I can walk around the building talking to the owners of the business functions, or I can consider an alternative starting point. As much as I love talking to people, many of them have real jobs to do.
This is where the org chart kicks in. Yes, many employees wonder why it is so important for companies to build that 'tree' of people, beyond inflating the managerial ego. In my case, the org chart is an incredible tool to help me get started understanding not only where business functions are performed, but it gives me therefore the starting place to look for filed records and the business processes that created them. Its like the computer generated fractal pictures (the crazy animation) that follows natural effects. You jump to the major focal points, then drill down in a never ending fashion into the details of the business and the records that are produced. If I was really detailed-oriented, this type of work could keep me occupied for years. Even though I'm not, there is a certain natural order to things that yet another holistic view of the organization can provide. Perhaps the organizational studies will not result in a beautiful image, but there should be a nice structure that helps keep things organized.
A post from the Improving It blog
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Fractal image found on Wikipedia at Phoenix(Julia).gif