101 Kaizen Templates: Spaghetti Diagram

The spaghetti diagram needs very little introduction. It’s so named because the lines movement drawn on this diagram resemble a pile of tangled noodles. It’s a movement path diagram by a more appetizing name.

Seeing Wasted Movement

The spaghetti diagram is a great waste observation tool even for beginners. By tracing the movement of people or materials through process, it can quickly become obvious when the layout or work sequence needs correcting. This template also one that serves even the most seasoned lean practitioners, as it can be used for detailed analysis during quick changeover efforts.

Using the Spaghetti Diagram Template

There isn’t much to the spaghetti diagram template. It’s basically grid paper to make it easier to track the movement roughly to scale. One square can be one foot, meter, etc. 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. 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.

Tips to Getting Started with the Spaghetti Diagram

Here are three tips to get you started. 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. A measuring wheel is a great tool for more accurate tracing of distances.  But 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. Use the diagram to highlight opportunities to improve the process.

2 Comments

  1. Abey

    April 11, 2010 - 3:44 am
    Reply

    Thank you Jon for your time spreading the Lean.

  2. Jonathan P Godfrey

    December 9, 2010 - 9:16 am
    Reply

    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!

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