The Spaghetti diagram is a
very visual way to depict the material or
information flow, through a process in a
Spaghetti Diagram - What is
I'm sure most of you will remember the ancient
Greek tail of Theseus and the minatour.
Theseus set out to kill the Minotaur in the
Labyrinth, his friend Ariadne gave him a ball of thread to unwind so that he could
find his way back, after completing his task.
On his return if Theseus had drawn on paper all
of the different places that the thread had been, then he
would have created the first
Spaghetti map in history!
Imagine attaching a virtual thread to a piece of
information, material or person in your workplace.
A spaghetti diagram is a way of showing what
happens to this virtual thread, as the work moves through
It's called a Spaghetti diagram because the result
typically looks like a bowl of spaghetti.
Spaghetti Diagram - How Can it Help
The Spaghetti diagram helps identify waste that is
often not even recognised as such. e.g. walking to and from a printer that is
located too far from the people using it.
It helps us determine the physical flow and
distance that information and people travel to process work.
The spaghetti diagram helps us to "see" processes
and procedures in a different way.
The spaghetti diagram can very often help you see
waste that you didn't realise existed.
Spaghetti Diagram - Who,When and Why
A representative spaghetti diagram is best put
together by using a cross functional group, who are intimate with the processes and
geography of the area being reviewed.
The Spaghetti diagram can be used at any time to
gain clarity and understanding of your current condition.
In general the Spaghetti diagram is best used when
you want to move from your current state to an improved future state.
The main reason to create a spaghetti diagram is
to document the current movement of work and people.
It gives us an insight into the distances
travelled and the number and locations that work has to travel to.
It clearly shows transport wastes, and gives us a
20,000 ft view of our operations which we rarely encounter on a day to day
Spaghetti Diagram -
You will need to prepare the following ahead of
A room with a large enough space to create the
(Typically big enough for 4-6 pieces
of A! flip chart paper
Creating the Spaghetti Diagram - Step 1 -
pieces of flip chart paper together and lay them out on the desk
(Experience will tell you how big this needs to be)
2.Draw an outline of the area you are
looking at roughly to scale.
3. Walk the
process to get a 3d feel of what is involved and take notes regarding the layout of
4.Create cut outs (to scale) using the post it's of the various
elements of the workplace, and lay them in position on the diagram e.g.
5.Once you are happy with their positioning sticky
tape the cut outs onto the paper.
6.Decide on a colour key for the various work flows you want to
(use the different coloured string to represent these)
7.Start to build up the diagram by placing the string at your
(sticky tack the string down at the start point)
string (remember Theseus!) till you get to the next step in the process and sticky
tack it down. Continue this till you complete the
The reason for using blue tack is that 9 times out of 10 the team
will change their mind about what actually
9.Once you are happy
that the string is in the correct position sticky tape it down.
Sticking it will save you a lot of grief. I
promise you it is worth the little bit of time
10. Analyse the
diagram and look for opportunities to minimise transport
The spaghetti diagram
is a great way to identify transport waste.
It provides a real bird's eye view of your process, and can give
you a great start to identify layout issues
that are creating poor flow, extra travel, and wasted
It communicates waste
that isn't always obvious, especially to those that don't actually do the