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Resource Center > Process Improvement Toolbox > Visual Modeling Tools

Visual Modeling

Visual modeling helps us understand how to implement the Five Principles

pie chart showing equal amounts of focus on customer, rapid cycles, innovative ideas, good change leader, and fix a key problem

Though it seems clear that the five NIATx principles promote success, how to apply these principles in practice is not so clear. We can use visual modeling tools to implement the five principles, because they allow us to:

  • Map out the system—the inputs, processes, and the outputs—in a clear, understandable way
  • Infer cause and effect, thus making troubleshooting easier
  • Generate ideas and solutions and evaluate them based on their innovativeness and ease of implementation
  • Determine what we should measure and allow us to monitor the consistency of output
  • Promote transparency and accountability within Change Teams, and make it easier for new team members to jump in
  • Communicate effectively and efficiently, thus leading to fewer meetings
  • Manage the change process and give clues about where to go next.

The table below provides links to visual modeling tools that agencies can use to practice the five key principles (in PDF format). Download a version that contains all ten tools. Add to portal

The charts and diagrams were created using Microsoft Visio or Excel—extremely useful software for visual modeling and communication.

One caveat: avoid "analysis paralysis." Use visual tools to guide decision-making; these should not take excessive time or effort that keeps staff from getting things done.

Visual Modeling Tools
NIATx Principle Tools
Understanding the customer Basic Flowcharts Add to portal, Swimlane Diagrams Add to portal
Fixing a key problem Fishbone Diagrams Add to portal, Inter-relationship Digraphs Add to portal
Choosing a Change Leader Sociograms Add to portal, Team Spiderwebs Add to portal
Generating innovative ideas iBoards Add to portal, i2 Charts Add to portal
Rapid-cycle testing Tug-'O-War Diagrams Add to portal