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“This method not only provided excellent tools, it also helped us build the habit of criticizing our own process so we can make it better.”

David Scronce,
Director Strategic Initiatives
University of California, Berkeley


Macro Maps Help You Choose Processes

How do you choose the right processes to work on first? 

  1. A leader raised his hand and said, “Let’s start with this one.”
  2. IT bought some software and needed to install it.
  3. The process was key to the strategic plan.
  4. The organization used criteria to choose from its portfolio of processes

All of these methods will work (and there are different advantages and disadvantages to each), but if you know the portfolio of processes and have criteria ( #4)  you can know which one to choose from among the full list.

A Macro map is a graphical rending of an organization as a portfolio of processes.  (Many thanks to my colleague Jerry Talley for initially developing this concept of a Macro Map. (  He and I have been using it and improving it ever since. )  Here’s an example: 


 How Do you Build a Macro Map?

I suggest starting with a small group of executives/managers who know the work of the department.  Build the first draft of the macro map with them, and then take it to staff and have them verify it and add to it.  Below are some specifics to help you with the process.

With the managers:

  • Begin with listing the customers – the people who receive or use the output.
  • Then list the core products or services delivered by the department
  • Next list the key stakeholders, who could be internal or external.  These are people that are essential to listen to, but they are not your customers.
  • Now what are the processes that support the delivery of the core products.  They could be planning, scheduling staff, research, securing resources.)

(I put these items on the graphic right away.  Jerry makes a documented list of the elements and then turns it into a graphic overnight.)

To do a fuller macro map, you can add four other areas:  Management processes, infrastructure processes, capability building, and maintenance.  A first draft of the full map could look something like this. 

Source: Jerry Talley

Then take the map in graphic form to a representative staff group.

  • Explain how you built the first draft of the map with the managers, and what its components are. 
  • Start with the core processes and ask them if anything is missing or needs revision.
  • Then go to the support processes.
  • Ask them if they can see the components of their job in different place on the macro map.  What components of their job are missing?
  • Keep adding and revising the map as suggestions are made.


How the Map is Used

  • It provides a list of the portfolio of processes for the department or organization.  (So the voice shooting the loudest for a process gets compared to the whole portfolio.)
  • These processes are categorized, so it’s easy to see which are the core ones supporting customer deliverables, and what other types of processes there are. (So it’s clear which ones are the most important to the customers.)
  • Add quantitative data to the macro map.  The macro map below is the same one as shown at the top, but now it has data showing number of hours worked on each one and the customer satisfaction ranking.  It is obvious which ones demand the most employee time.  And for this organization, where the goal was to streamline processes, reduce workload, and not hire additional employees, it was obvious which ones to work on first –



The macro map is a wonderful infographic to display and categorize all the processes.  It also gets executives and employees engaged in thinking about the big picture by process, and helps each one relate it to their own work.  And it doesn’t take that long to build.  Try it!

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4 comments to Macro Maps Help You Choose Processes

  • Macro maps are what I call Process Architecture. Your explanation of the steps towards building it, and regarding how to prioritize process improvement efforts is excellent. Just one comment, I also use Macro maps for strategic alignment purposes and for progressive refinement of the process models.

  • Louie Chanco

    I might be missing it, but since it was required in the steps described, don’t you put the core products/services and key stakeholders in the diagram too? If so, how are they illustrated?

    • shelley

      The first Student Services Map and the last student services map are the same except that the second adds quantitative data. The Parks and Recreation map in the middle is a more elaborate map. It does not include customer which would go to the right. It does include core processes, and more – management processes, building capability process, and maintenance processes. Hope this helps.

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