Swim Lane

I spy, with my little eye

Swimmers swimming in the pool

Goal

More proactiveness in solving bottlenecks in the working method by providing insight into the work process. This creates a shared image and more support for the agreed way of working.

Description

With a Swim Lane you visualize your work process with sticky notes. From right to left, put up the process steps starting with the delivery of value to your customer. The various actors involved are listed from top to bottom. Each actor has, as it were, its own swim lane in the process steps to be followed.

Results

Video

This video walks you through examples of swim lane diagrams and explain the differences between a swim lane diagram and a flowchart. In this introduction, you’ll learn:

  • How to read a swim lane diagram
  • Benefits of swim lane diagrams over traditional flowcharts
  • When to use a swim lane diagram
Play Video

To Work

  1. Decide together which work process you want to develop.
  2. Each participant writes for themselves on sticky notes the different steps you see in the process.
  3. Bring all the steps together and remove all the duplicates together.
  4. Determine the correct order of the steps together. On the left is the first process step and on the right is the last step to the customer.
  5. Go through the entire process together from back to front, starting with the customer who receives the result. Check in this way whether the process is consistent and adjust the visualization where necessary by changing, adjusting, adding or removing process steps.

Source

Swim Lanes were first used in an East German modeling standard. In LEAN, they are called Makigami, which translated means nothing more than “roll of paper”. This is because Swim Lanes are often drawn on a large roll of brownpaper.

You find a more detailed description of this technique in section 5.4 Swim Lane in our book Connective Teamwork (EN, NL). The book helps you set your team in motion with a practical 5-step plan and 20 teamwork techniques.

You can learn more about and practice this technique in our Connective Team Coach Training Course.

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