Can Interviewing be a Great Help for Process Mapping?

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  • This topic has 6 replies, 5 voices, and was last updated 2 years ago by Ron.
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    Jose Jacalne

    Hi! This is my first job and I have no one to ask to in our company with regards to these kinds of questions because there is no expert in here when it comes to process improvement. Probably this is a dumb question but I’ll ask this anyway. Can interviewing the operators of machine help me in my process map and improvement?

    I have already made a process map based on my observation and asked for help of my superiors in verifying it. But what I think that would increase the chances of us finding that ‘pain’ for the operators is by interviewing them one on one. And yes, their answers will be verified or analyzed concurrent to their data. I’m really hoping for your suggestions.
    Thank you.



    Not a dumb question as many people actually miss the importance of this step.

    Short answer is yes, I would never process map without either direct observation (ideal) or interviewing the actual users.

    In the interview don’t just follow the ‘happy path’, when everything goes right. Ask some probing questions such as, what can go wrong, how often do things break/not work as planned, and my favorite, if you could improve one, maybe two things, what would they be?

    I would recommend not just an interview but actually spend some time watching the operators work through the process if you are able to. There may be detailed steps or workflow issues you can see visibly just be spending some time in the process.

    I would guess you will find at least one ‘hidden’ observation that allows some breakthrough change.


    Mike Carnell

    @Jjacalne23 You have actually done this really well. Observation with zero input is a great way to start. Now you have seen what is actually happens and all the people that love to use the word Gemba will be immensely happy. The interview is necessary because you are not going to see every condition that happens. When you interview people have a conversation not an interrogation. You start asking a lot of questions one right after another and they will wonder if you have a hidden agenda. This needs to be casual if you want people to cooperate and be truthful.

    I would work from the map you made during your observations. Make a copy and do the operators input on a separate map. Then to Managers, engineers, supervisors, etc on fresh maps but do not show them the input from the other people. Do comparisons and go back and try to understand the differences. It is important that regardless what engineers and supervisors think should be done, people do things for a reason. You need to understand those reasons.

    Just my opinion.


    Jose Jacalne

    Thank you very much @[email protected] and @Mike-Carnell.

    I strongly agree with Mike’s advice to make the interview feel like a conversation and not an interrogation. I will keep that in mind.

    Your advices were a big help. I am starting to get our operators’ opinions about the process and been taking what you both said into consideration.


    Jason Alcedo

    I couldn’t agree more with the above comments!

    Interviewing the operators will help in the mapping of the ‘current state’ process.

    As you begin establishing the ‘future state’ process improvements, it will be worth circling back with those you interviewed for a second round. There is no better way to have the new improvements succeed than to have the operators/stake-holders be part of the solution discovery process. Start with having them identify improvement opportunities. Consider applying the 5 Why’s Framework to get to the root cause of issues. At this point, a brainstorming session allows potential solutions to come from front line workers.

    Good luck on your project! Have fun with your first job!


    Martin K. Hutchison

    Think in terms of SIPOC- Supplier, Input, Process, Output, Customer. Your process map is full of them, but maybe missing some.

    Go to a process owner and ask what inputs he gets and from whom. Think information as well as parts, tools, equipment, even work instructions and drawings. Ask what would make those inputs better. Then ask what good looks like when he is done with his process, including the non-product questions above. If you do this with every process owner on your map, chances are you will find important missing pieces, and some cross-functional opportunities for improvement.

    You sound like you are up to the task, but need mentorship- post here and folks will try to help.


    The fast answer is absolutely! However I must caution you that many times an interview will yield false data. People are normally leary of continuous improvement people and give answers that are text book not reality. My advice is to have a dual approach 1)Interview, 2) Observe. I usually work with a partner who while one person is interviewing an operator the other is observing other operators to see how things are actually done. A Remote camera if allowed is a great tool also.
    When you have completed to Detailed Process Map hold a meeting with the process operators to have them verify each step in the process.

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