Six Sigma Tools for continuous quality improvement


Relations Diagram

Interrelationship Diagram for thought mapping

Interrelationship Diagram

Use a Relations Diagram

to identify root causes
of a complex, nonlinear problem

Relations Diagram

Sample Relations Diagram example

Relations Diagram — Key Point

A Thought Map is just a discussion aid

A completed interrelationship diagram is often not easy to understand for people that didn't participate in the discussions that created it

but can serve as a very useful memory jogger
for the people that built your Relations Map one arrow at a time.

When to use your other

Six Sigma templates

The right Six Sigma tools
to Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control
the quality of ANY process

Root Cause Analysis tools

Use your Relations Diagram template

to identify root causes of a complex, non-linear problem

Use your other Root Cause Analysis Tools

to identify root causes of less complex, linear problems

Most commonly...

your Root Cause Analysis Mapping template (RootMap.xlsx)

your Root Cause Fishbone Diagram template (RootCause.xlsx)

How to use your

Relations Diagram template

Find and open your template

Excel Ribbon bar > Systems2win menu

Find and open your
Relations Diagram template


in the same way that you find and open
your other 150+ Systems2win templates.

Save your working document

following the usual document storage and naming conventions established by your leaders

Open a Blank Sheet

Systems2win menu > Open a Blank Sheet

When you're ready to start doing your own real work...

click the button to 'Open a Blank Sheet'

Excel Ribbon bar > Systems2win tab > Open a Blank Sheet

This blank sheet is where you will do your real work

(not on the Sample sheet)

Rename your new sheet.

If English is not your preferred language

Switch to your language, just like every Systems2win Excel template.

Now your team is ready to start using your

Interrelationship Diagram

for thought mapping to isolate root causes of a complex, multi-faceted problem

Step 1) Organize your team

Usually no more than 5 to 7 stakeholders — with differing perspectives.

Follow the instructions and use your tools to launch any team.

Step 2) State the problem

Clearly state the problem in the document title.

Distribute your clearly defined problem statement at least a day or more in advance,
so your team members have a chance to begin thinking about it, and come more prepared.

Brainstorming template

Step 3) Brainstorm

Brainstorm issues that are most likely to contribute to the problem.

Use your Brainstorming and Affinity Grouping template (Brainstorming.docx)

Perhaps also use Hansei to stimulate lean thinking

Step 4) Write thoughts into cloud shapes

One thought per cloud. Arrange clouds in large circle.

Some people like to include a cloud in the center for the primary presenting problem.

If you didn't skip the New User Training, you will already know how to use Excel as a drawing tool.

Step 5) Define relationships between each cloud

Choose any two clouds.

If your group decides that one factor causes or exacerbates the other,
then draw an arrow from the causal factor to the affected one.

Repeat this analysis for every pairing of clouds.

Perhaps re-arrange and/or color-code the clouds into affinity groups.

Step 6) Tabulate the results

Count the number of arrows leading into and out of each cloud.

The issues with the most "out" arrows are probable key causes of the other issues, and therefore probably deserve more of your group's attention.


This Relations Diagram template comes with many other
useful Root Cause Analysis tools and Lean Six Sigma tools.


Own them all for one low price




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