101 Kaizen Templates: Spaghetti Diagram



By Jon Miller | Post Date: February 12, 2008 11:06 PM | Comments: 2

The spaghetti diagram needs very little introduction. Aptly named so because the lines movement drawn on this diagram come to resemble a pile of tangled noodles, it is an movement path diagram by a more appetizing name. The spaghetti diagram is a great waste observation tool even for people taking their very first steps at kaizen and lean management, and also one that serves even the most seasoned lean practitioners faithfully.

Print out this spaghetti diagram template, pick up a pencil, find a process to observe and a nearby writing surface and you are ready to begin. Just trace the movement of the person working within the process you are observing, just they way they are moving. If lean is new to your organization the lines on your spaghetti diagram will probably criss-cross the page and may even turn the page black: the color of opportunity. Then question the need for every line of motion, solicit ideas from the people in the area, do kaizen and draw another spaghetti diagram and compare. You are making progress when your sketch looks more like manicotti.

This example reminded me of the delicious and chewy pub favorite dried squid rather than spaghetti.

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A few words of caution. First, it should be cooked spaghetti, not dry, so put down the ruler and forget about drawing neat straight lines. People don't move in straight lines so the spaghetti diagram should represent the actual lines of motion. Second, it's not a piece of art so there is no need to draw things to scale or to use every color in your pencil box. Third, this is a tool to expose the condition of badness or what the Japanese call warusa kagen so don't be concerned about the precise walking distance. Do however keep track of the number of trips made to remote locations and note the reasons why.

Feeling hungry? Pull out your spaghetti diagram and see how well your kitchen is organized the next time you plan to cook a plate of noodles. You might be surprised.

Thank you Jon for your time spreading the Lean.

Poster: Abey | Post Date: April 11, 2010 3:44 AM

Hi Jon,
Thank you for the quick intro into a spaghetti diagram. I'm new to quality improvement principles and am studying the difference terms and concepts. The visual was especially helpful in understanding that it can be a rough drawing. No need for perfection here!

Poster: Jonathan P Godfrey | Post Date: December 9, 2010 9:16 AM
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