Draw Communication Lines

Follow the information-flow from activity to activity. Who transfers what to whom?

The communication line can have two colors:

1. GREEN: The communication flows like water through a river: Always correct, on time and complete.

2. RED: Not ALWAYS on time, -complete or -correct.

Your test-question is: “Would you fly with this?” Where the answer is not immediately “Yes” it is RED.

It is not unusual to see that the communication in the current state map is quite cluttered and not reliable. Show this! This might reveal your actual problem! 

Connecting the activities by communication-lines. Once the process starts with unclear or undefined input, it is quite obvious the rest can never be on-time, correct and complete anymore!

How to visualize the (quality of the) communication flow?

So far we visualized which Actors perform what actions. The next step is to visualize how those actions are connected.

  • Now let’s find out how the actors relate- or communicate to each other. To do so, we draw arrows from action to action.
  • From action to action ask yourselves: is this step flowing really smooth? Is it always correct, complete, on time? Is there flow like water in a river? Yes? Then the arrow is GREEN.
  • When you think it is green: Check again! Is this also true during holidays, when the actor gets ill, … In other words:

“Would you fly with it?”

In case there are hiccups’ between the actions; in case the transfer is not ALWAYS complete, on time, fully correct,
we identify this with a RED arrow.

makigami cluttered communication example

Check the status at the startpoint of your process


When your process is full of ‘red lines’ from the beginning, this might be a hint that your start-point was chosen to far down in the process; probably up-stream there is already some serious problem. 

Run back the process until you meet the point where the process is still stable; here is the the source of the distorted data.


With an unstable starting point, there is no use of improving the rest of the process:

Garbage in Garbage out!

Visual effect:

Even to who doesn’t know the process it should be obvious where in this process a major problem occurs;
Cluttered communication lines make visible where the flow is being interrupted.

example cluttered decision in makigami
example process problem in makigami
example cluttered process in makigami

How to visualize ‘Decisions’

Decisions and loops (which are actually repeated decisions) are critical moments in any process so make sure to find any of them in your process. In a decision, there is always a question being asked. Is this form complete? Is the price correct? Is the outcome between 6.2 and 8.4?

Depending the answer to the question, the process will evolve in one direction or another.

makigami decision example

You might discover that in the majority of the cases, neither the question nor the (criteria to the) answers are
unambiguously, defined in a unified way, and clear to everybody in the process!

  1. Write down the question. Put the question at the line of the actor that asks this question.
  2. Write down the activity following on every potential answer. Put those answers at the lines where they would be performed.
  3. Later this ‘split’ of the process is visualized by drawing the communications lines.

If you are used to draw flowcharts, you may want to use flowchart-symbols! A normal action post-it now correspondents to a flowchart action. A decision is visualize as a decision symbol (a ‘diamond’). Where the typical flowchart reads ‘top to bottom’ (vertically) the Makigami flow reads ‘left to right’, moving horizontal through the ‘lanes’ of each actor.


a Decision is binary: it has ALWAYS two options: Yes or No, Left or Right.

Make sure to describe what happens in BOTH options! 

How to visualize ‘Loops’

A ‘loop’ is actually a ‘decision’ that can returns to the original question.

A forms that needs to be completed by several inputs from several parties would need to be checked several times for its completeness:

Makigami Loop example

Is the form complete?

Yes? Then go on. No? Add some more data

Loops are rarely visualized in most flow-charts, yet we should discover and visualize them in our Makigami because loops can be very time-consuming.

Summary of the transfers

When all communication-lines are drawn, we can sum all ‘transfers’. Transfers are those points where data or information is passed on from one actor to another.

Per actor, sum the amount of times he transfers (‘gives away’) data to another actor. Write this down in the resume-field at the right-most side of the form.

We only count when giving something away. (Output is being transferred to other party).

makigami Summation of Transfers
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