Brown Papers

Nowadays the term ‘Brown paper’ is used by many people euphemistically for almost any process mapping exercise, yet the origins are somewhat more humble, and the methodology, purpose and use long since corrupted and misunderstood by pretty much everyone!

The item “Brown Paper” was so named naturally due to the use of packing paper in it’s creation – it was the only form paper came in, in large enough, and cheap enough rolls, with cost conscious consultants unwilling to use more expensive bleached ones. Not only that, it sent a non-verbal message to the client, and it is actually this which hints at the Brown Paper’s hidden power.

When done correctly, for it’s original and true purpose, the Brown Paper is one of the most hugely powerful change management techniques you can ever use. Applied Acumen understand how to leverage the true power and purpose of the Brown Paper, and our clients reap the rewards.


What is so powerful about drawing the process out on brown paper?

The power of the Brown Paper is not so much in the technical drawing out of the process. Rather it is in providing a medium for the engagement of staff in the change process.

The collection and use of live documents to illustrate the process and bring it alive, the dialogue required to understand the dynamics of stakeholder understanding and stakeholder use of various elements of the process, the flow, the connections, the piecing together of the whole, and the process of critiquing the process…all these aspects are vital to leveraging the tactical value of the brown paper.


Why is it important to make it neat – it’s a scruffy brown paper?

As with most activity in a professional working environment, it is important to exercise due care when creating material that will be re-presented many times; it is right to ensure that this material reflects both the value and the care and effort that is embodied therein.

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When would we do a brown paper?

Brown papers are typically undertaken at or near the beginning of the analytical phase of a change initiative.

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What is a White Paper all about, then?

The White Paper refers to the mapping and illustration of the “To Be” process (or more usually ‘system’). This was historically created some weeks in to a change initiative by the change team.

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