swim lane diagrams

By Devin Morrissey

As a project manager, keeping everyone up to date on project outcomes, goals, and new ideas is a constant factor. Organization is one of the most crucial keys to success when managing a project within your company. It is critical to develop a clear plan and keep everyone on the same page and moving in the right direction in order to ensure success.

For many, developing new ideas and finding efficient ways to implement them can prove to be a bottleneck in the workflow. This is where visuals can be a real game changer. For certain tasks, such as mind or process mapping, a clear picture can make all the difference.

Why Visuals?

In order to maximize clarity and organization, many business project managers use practical visualizations to communicate with employees and boost their business strategies. It’s a great idea because nearly 65 percent of the population consists of visual learners. Visualizations and data charts are particularly valuable to companies as they can increase productivity, help with workplace happiness, and improve sales.

For example, some experts claim that human beings process visual images 60,000x faster than they do text, which implies that using visuals when organizing an employee’s workflow and long-term goals can greatly increase productivity. Visual strategies have been shown to be easier to comprehend and often simplify complex data. Furthermore, they may stick in the memory longer and help to break down communication barriers.

Additionally, when considering content marketing, visual content is an irreplaceable component. The way content is displayed and whether or not that display is pleasing to the eye is every bit as important as what the content actually says. Great visual content designs can help a company stand out from the crowd, while poorly executed designs can confuse and frustrate potential customers.

Mind Mapping

Mind mapping is one valuable visualization for increasing creativity and therefore productivity. By definition, a mind map is a free-flowing depiction of thoughts that branch out from one central concept or idea. For instance, if the central concept is a panda bear, the mind map may have branches related to habitat requirements, types of food it eats, breeding programs, and threats to panda bears among other ideas.

In this way, mind mapping can be a great way to stimulate creative thoughts and ideas for a project within a team meeting. Mind maps can also help organize ideas into priorities and goals, assign workday tasks, and come up with solutions to difficult problems. Ultimately the benefit of the mind map is limited to the user’s creativity!

Swim Lane Diagrams

Other types of charts and diagrams, such as swim lane diagrams, can also be useful in accomplishing these goals. Swim lane diagrams are one of the many types of flow charts that diagrams a process or idea from a starting point to a finishing point. Most frequently, swim lane diagrams are utilized to divide steps into categories that can then be assigned to differing departments or team members, maximizing accountability.

These types of diagrams can also help build retention in employees by organizing tasks to keep employees organized and capitalizing on strengths and interests. This can help reduce stress, keep employees engaged in their interests, and help foster relationships with team members — all of which are factors in improving long-term employee retention.

It is pretty clear that charts and idea process mapping tools can provide a substantial leg up in your business. They have repeatedly been linked to increased creativity, productivity, communication, and organization. But they are just one of numerous visual content tools out there that can be used to bring any number of creative ideas to fruition. The sheer number of these tools is growing exponentially, much to the benefit of product managers and other business professionals.

Devin Morrissey prides himself on being a jack of all trades; his career trajectory is more a zig zag than an obvious trend, just the way he likes it. He pops up across the Pacific Northwest, though never in one place for long. You can follow him more reliably on @DevMorrissey.

Swim lane stock photo by OpturaDesign/Shutterfly