Except among the deeply process-minded fellows with whom I sometimes converse, the suggestion that process mapping is a valuable market analysis and planning tool meets with argument and outright dismissal more often than it does serious consideration. Often I’m accused of treating process improvement like a hammer and every business element and strategic avenue like a nail.
I would suppose there might be something to such an argument, except that I have made my career by carefully considering what the right tool or approach is to solve a problem. I argue that process is a much more prevalent condition than many folks realize or choose to acknowledge.
If nothing else, the opinion that process mapping is a useful tool for market strategy analysis and planning is not mine alone. To mention only one methodology that not only supposes process mapping is useful for marketing, the Outcome Driven Innovation method employs a highly structured form of process mapping to evaluate and analyze a market’s opportunities and threats and to identify the most significant needs a potential product or service must satisfy. It has proven that process mapping is a very important and useful tool for market analysis to many people and organizations that have utilized that methodology.
Rather than re-hash how Outcome Driven Innovation makes use of process mapping, let’s examine its application to the marketing function in more general terms. After all, that one methodology is not the only one to make good use of the tool and I’m a big fan of custom tailoring methodologies to meet our own needs anyway.
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There is a truly important and powerful side affect of the process mapping effort. It rapidly identifies elements of the market and people’s behavior within the market that you don’t understand. By the time your process map is done, you will know more about your market than you imagined there was to know.