A spaghetti diagram shows the movement of a person or product during a business process. For example, a spaghetti diagram could plot the movements a nurse makes doing a particular job over a certain period. Lines that show the nurse's start points and end points for each part of the job are the spaghetti. A lean process is a way of working that cuts waste to a minimum. In the context of a lean process, a spaghetti diagram is an observation tool that identifies wasted time.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Challenging
Draw the floor plan of the area under investigation or obtain an existing diagram. Ensure the floor plan has all power points, equipment, furniture and temporary items such as boxes.
Observe the person who works in this area. Use a time frame that suits the nature of the work. Draw the person's lines of movement from start points to end points to create a spaghetti diagram. Alternatively, pin lengths of string to the floor plan at the start and end points of each movement.
Choose different times of day to observe the person. Create a series of spaghetti diagrams from these observations. Compare the diagrams to give insights into the way a person uses his or her time. Install a video camera to track a person's movements if this is more convenient and appropriate than personal observation.
Note the date of each spaghetti diagram together with the start and end times of the observation periods. Note the name and skill level of the person under observation, and number the steps of each task he or she performs. Measure the distance travelled as shown by the spaghetti lines.
Use the spaghetti diagrams to make improvements to the person's way of working. The goal is to cut back on wasted movement and time in line with lean process principles. Create new spaghetti diagrams and compare these with the details of the previous ones to confirm the success of any improvements.
Create spaghetti diagrams to show the movement of materials, products and information (See Resources 5, Appendix C). Use the same principles as spaghetti diagrams for people. The diagrams support a lean process by identifying wasted movement and time.
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- Financial Times Guides: Lean; Andy Brophy; 2013
- Advanced Performance Improvement in Health Care; Donald E. Lighter; 2011
- Practical Support for Lean Six Sigma Software Process Definition; Susan K. Land et al; 2008
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- Lean Management Principles for Information Technology; Gerhard J. Plenert; 2012
- Advanced Lean Thinking; Joint Commission Resources; 2008
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- Leveraging Lean in Healthcare; Charles Protzman et al; 2011
- Lean for Service Organizations and Offices; Debashis Sarkar; 2008
- The Lean Handbook; Anthony Manos and Chad Vincent (editors); 2012