How to Draw a Spaghetti Diagram

In LEAN Six Sigma events we use a simple tool called the Spaghetti Diagram to understand the impact of movement. Our goal is to reduce the movement consequently reducing the lead-time to produce the product.

In most LEAN Six Sigma projects we are trying to reduce the lead-time and complexity to produce a service, product or a transaction. Does movement of a service, product or a transaction impact the time to produce?

Imagine attaching a device to the product that could record information when that product moves (either digitally or physically). This device could record the distance moved and the time it took to move. Would this be valuable to a team trying to reduce the time to produce the product? I hope you said “Yes!”.

An example of a Spaghetti Diagram is below. Notice that it resembles a plate of spaghetti.

spaghetti diagram

Drawing a Spaghetti Diagram

It is quite simple. First we need a floor plan of each of the areas where the product moves to and from. Sometimes your team can get a hold of CAD drawings of the facilities. Other times, teams have to rough sketch the areas on a flip chart. The more your drawing is set to some kind of scale, the better your approximation will be of the distance that the product moves.

When drawing the Spaghetti Map:

  • Use different color markers for different people handling the product.:
  • Physical movement is a represented by a solid line.
  • Digital movement is represented by a dotted line.

Trace the movement of the product from the 1st step to the last step. If your product is several sub products (or sub components) that converge into one product then track each sub-component separately and separate them by color or by producing a separate spaghetti map. Our goal is to capture the comprehensive movement of the product.

The metrics our team tracks once we complete the spaghetti diagram are:

  • # of hand-offs (this is the number of times the product has moved either digitally or physically)
  • Distance traveled

What did you think? Did this article help you develop a Lean Six Sigma Spaghetti Diagram with your team? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.