The first tool that we will look at is a flow chart. You have likely seen or used these before: they literally draw out a process or system. For this reason they are often called system or process maps. We are going to start with a very basic chart, but keep in mind that Lean flow charts can get quite complex.


Types of Symbols

Most flowcharts are made up of three main types of symbols.

Elongated circles signal the beginning or end of a process.


Rectangles show actions or instructions.




Diamonds show the part of the process where decisions are made.




Within each symbol is a word or short phrase that describes the action that takes place at that step. Symbols are connected one to the other by arrows, showing the flow of the process.

These are only the basic symbols; there are many other symbols in use. However, since a flowchart is a communication tool, it is important to use symbols that your readers will understand.