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Tree Diagram template

also known as Hierarchy Diagram, Decision Tree Diagram, Why-Why Diagram, How-How Diagram, Decision Tree Template, Critical To Quality Tree, Work Breakdown Structure, or Organization Chart

What is a Tree Diagram?

A tree diagram worksheet starts with a single item that branches (like a tree) into multiple items.

Use it to systematically direct your thinking to increasing levels of specific details

Choose the right type of

Decision Tree template

Generic Tree Diagram template

The generic Tree Diagram template (TreeDiagram.xlsx) can be used to create any of the following variations.

Some variations are popular or unique enough to have their own template.

Tip: If your diagram has complex arrows to illustrate complex relationships between tree elements, then sometimes it is better to use your flowchart template (FlowChart.xlsx)

Critical To Quality Tree Diagram

Variations: Critical to Satisfaction, Critical to Process, Critical to Delivery, Critical to Cost, Critical to Schedule...

The purpose of a 'Critical To' Diagram is to ensure that the product or process characteristics that you measure and control will actually satisfy your customers' desires.


The Critical To Quality Tree Diagram is popular enough to have its own Excel template. (TreeCritical.xlsx)


And your Measurement Assessment Tree Tree Diagram (MeasuresTree.xlsx) can then be used to further refine the stratification of the specific measures for each sub-category of customers and/or delivery channels.


You might also want to use your flowchart template (FlowChart.xlsx) to perform Critical To Quality Analysis, and/or Cost of Quality Analysis.

Tree Diagram


Critical To Quality Tree


Measures Assessment Tree

Why-Why Diagram

also known as Five Whys

A Why-Why Tree Diagram is an alternative to your Fishbone Diagram template (RootCause.xlsx) to identify root causes of a problem.

Root Cause Analysis template


  1. Clearly define the problem you're seeking to solve
  2. Ask "why?" this problem happens or might happen.
    Write each "cause" in the branch layer right beneath or beside the primary problem.
  3. Treat each cause at this layer as a problem statement for the next layer.
    Ask "why?" this problem happens or might happen.
    Write each "cause" in the next branch layer — using arrows to show relationships.
  4. Keep going — until each branch terminates with root causes which can then be systematically addressed
    (often company policies, systems, or need for training).

How-How Diagram

Variations: Work Breakdown Structure, Job Analysis, or Task Analysis

Similar to Why-Why Diagram, but instead keep asking "How?"

Decision Tree template

Logic Diagram or Decision Tree Diagram template

A sequenced set of alternate paths that lead to a correct decision for what to do in different circumstances.

Often a flowchart is a better tool for creating a logic decision tree.

Flow Chart Decision Tree

Process Decision Program Chart


To identify potential problems and countermeasures in a complex project plan.


  1. Make a high-level tree diagram of your proposed plan of action.

    Top cell is the project objective, next tier is main phases, third tier has the most important tasks to accomplish the phases.

  2. For each third-level task, brainstorm what could go wrong.
    Eliminate problems that are not likely to happen, or whose consequences are minor.
    Create a fourth tier for the remaining problems.

    Some tasks might not have significant problems.

    Perhaps use a different type of shape for the Problems tier.

  3. Brainstorm possible countermeasures for each potential problem.
    Create a fifth tier for countermeasures.

    Perhaps use a different type of shape for the Countermeasures tier. (perhaps a cloud shape?)

  4. Determine the practicality of each countermeasure.

    Use criteria such as cost, time, effectiveness, ease...

    In the text box for each countermeasure, the first character is either 'X' for impractical, or 'O' for practical.

Bill of Materials

aka Gozinto chart, or Structure Tree Diagram

To visually illustrate the relationship between an item and it's lower-level sub-assemblies, parts, and materials, as well as (optionally) the higher-level item or assembly that this item is a part of.

A Structure Tree is an essential supplement to both a DFMEA and a PFMEA. You will usually use the Insert Sheet button to insert a Flow Chart sheet to illustrate a visual Bill of Materials as a sheet within your FMEA template.

Insert Sheet

If you use your Tree Diagram template to create your Structure Tree, then you can Link to that supplemental document, copy a picture of it, and/or use the Copy Sheet button to include with your FMEA.


To refine desired product characteristics when doing product design and development.


Also see the Characteristic Matrix that is often used when creating a PFMEA.

Characteristic Matrix

Breakdown Tree

To illustrate the demographic breakdown of a survey population.

Organization Chart template

also known as Organizational Chart template or Hierarchy Diagram

To define organizational relationships, both formal and informal.

Most people think of an Organization Chart as being different from a Tree Diagram, but they both use the same underlying Excel Hierarchy Diagram, and the instructions for how to use both types of charts are identical.

Organization Chart



How to use any

Tree Diagram Worksheet

that features an Excel hierarchy diagram

see the various types of Tree Diagrams (above)

Note: These instructions apply to any Systems2win template that
uses an Excel hierarchy diagram, including:

Video Help

Training video: Tree Diagram

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Your Decision Tree Diagram templates
come with an entire suite of Process Improvement Tools


to empower every team member to improve every process

Training for how to use your

Tree Diagram template

or any template that features an Excel Hierarchy Chart

Convert the diagram to SmartArt graphic

Double click anywhere on the diagram, and select the radio button to Convert to SmartArt Graphic.

Tip: If you did ANYTHING to the chart before converting it to SmartArt Graphic you will need to delete it, and insert a new one. Insert > SmartArt > Hierarchy

Suggested workflow sequence

to edit any Excel organization chart template or tree diagram template

  1. Insert and edit primary shapes (without worrying too much about colors, fonts, or other formatting)
  2. Re-size the work space as needed (rows and columns, Print Area, drawing space...)
  3. Apply formatting (as the last thing you do)


To change the size of your work space

You might need to do any or all of the following:

  1. Insert or Unhide the number of underlying rows or columns First look to see if there are any hidden row or columns that can be unhidden. If not, then select entire rows or columns where you want to insert, then right-click > Insert
  2. Change the Print Area

    If you simply Hide & Unhide preformatted rows & columns then you won't need to mess with the Print Area.

    In the rare event that you need to change the Print Area — see training for how to change the Print Area.

  3. Resize the drawing space

To resize the drawing space

Simply drag the corners of the drawing space

To edit text in shapes

You can simply type text in a box...

but it is usually wiser to type your text next to the bullets in the Type Your Text Here window that appears to the side of the diagram whenever you click anywhere on the diagram.

If you foolishly choose to collapse the 'Type Your Text Here' window...

you can toggle the arrow in the middle of the left border of the diagram to bring it back.

The text that you type next to the bullets will also appear in the text boxes.

Tree Diagram Data Management Box

Measurement Assessment Tree Diagram template

Notice that in the Measures Assessment Tree Diagram template the top text boxes are not actually part of the organization chart diagram.

They are simply text boxes.

Bug: If there is not already any text in one of these top-row text boxes, then there is a bug in Excel 2010 and higher

that won't allow you to add any text so you might need to replace these text boxes with new ones.

Insert > Shapes > Textbox

Measures Tree

To add a shape or branch

Right-click a node > Add Shape >

To move or rearrange boxes

In the Type Your Text Here window... right-click > Promote or Demote

Tip: It is a really bad idea to just drag shapes around.

Excel 2010 and higher also has the option to Move Up or Down

which actually means "Move Left" or "Move Right" if that tier is organized horizontally rather than vertically.

Tip: Before using Demote, use Move Up or Down to position the node to the right of the node that you want to Demote beneath.

Caution: It is difficult to move or rearrange the sequence of "co-worker" boxes —
so think ahead to arrange your upper level co-workers in your desired sequence.

Caution: If you are sure that you are completely done, and will never again run AutoLayout —
then you can toggle AutoLayout off, which will allow you to move and rearrange boxes.

(But if you ever toggle AutoLayout back on, then all of your moving and rearranging will be lost.)

To resize a box

Resize the entire chart, and the box sizes will adjust automatically.

Or right-click any individual shape(s) > Size and Properties

AutoLayout is a toggle. When you turn it off, you can resize boxes.

Caution: When you toggle AutoLayout back on, any new boxes that you insert will be the same size as the last box that you changed (at the same level). Systems2win recommends waiting to perform all final formatting functions as the very last thing
you do — after all shapes have been added and positioned, and the drawing space has been properly sized.


e.g. standard org chart format, left-hanging tabs, right-hanging tabs, etc.

With the diagram selected,
select the SmartArt Tools Design tab

(that appears in your Ribbon menu only when a diagram is selected)

then select your preferred type of Layout,
which should almost always be Organization Chart.

SmartArt menu

Using the Layout dropdown list
in the Create Graphic section of the Design toolbar...
(see illustration)

each branch can have its own layout.

For example, one branch might be left-hanging, and another right-hanging.

Excel screenshot


Tip: If your tree diagram has complex arrows to illustrate complex relationships between tree elements, then sometimes it is better to use the flowchart template instead.

To format colors, fonts, and shapes

Tip: It is wise to wait until your organization chart is fully laid out before applying formatting to individual shapes

With the diagram selected, select the SmartArt Tools Design tab and/or Format tab
(that appears in your Ribbon menu only when a diagram is selected)
then have fun trying out all kinds of different styles and formats.

You can also right-click any individual shape(s) > Format Shape

To format connecting lines

Right-click any individual line(s) > Size and Properties

Tip: If your tree diagram has complex arrows to illustrate complex relationships between tree elements, then...

  • you can add extra lines and arrows as the very last thing you do — right before saving and/or printing
  • or use the flowchart template instead

Text boxes, pictures, and AutoShapes
within the drawing space

Tip: Keep these elements off to the side of your drawing space until you are ready to do your final formatting.

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