Process Improvement: Spaghetti Diagram

Why are leaders hesitant to focus on this?

Almost all jobs have processes that are considered routine. Most of the time, you might not even think that most of these processes are a candidate for improvement. However, if you do happen to consider one of these routine processes, your familiarity with the process might be your biggest barrier to improvement. It can blind you to gaps and opportunities because you think you already know everything that there is to know about it.

What is the case for doing it anyway?

Routines are necessary. They help us establish consistency in our processes. These consistencies help improve results. However, routines can also be where some of the worst inefficiencies hide. The spaghetti diagram is a tool that can help us find these opportunities. It is a simple visual tool that any team can use to map their processes and see if there are ways to make improvements.

How can you do it? 

  1. Select a process. Identify a process that you want to evaluate. The best candidates for this tool are processes that can represented spatially.
  2. Create your map. Almost all process can be represented visually. Create a visual representation of your process by identifying key steps or components. If a map of the physical space where your process take places is available, this is best for maximizing the effectiveness of this tool.
  3. Make spaghetti.The spaghetti in the diagram are the lines generated by drawing on your map to represent the steps of your process. Draw all possible iterations of the process. It may help to incorporate different colors into your diagram to enhance the visual effectiveness of your diagram.
  4. Evaluate. No tool is effective if we fail to evaluate the data it produces.

Have you ever used a spaghetti diagram to evaluate a process? Log on and join the conversation at  We learn best from each other’s experiences.

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