Spaghetti diagram

Skill level: Basic


A spaghetti diagram is used to describe the flow of people and machines. In service industries it is used to view paperwork, customer work, or worker flow. The goal of the analysis is to maximize the process efficiency by eliminating wasted movement.


  • Easy to create
  • Clear flow patterns can be seen

How to Use

  • Step 1.  Draw the area to be studied.
  • Step 2.  Draw a line for each movement.
  • Step 3.  Brainstorm how the movement can be decreased.
  • Step 4.  Improve workflow and repeat.

Relevant Definitions

Not Applicable


A surgical center is looking for ways to reduce the movement of patients. They decide to use a spaghetti diagram to represent the current state. The quality manger draws a map of the building and then watches a few patients from the time they enter the office to when they leave, drawing a line on the map for every movement they make. Below is the result for one patient.


From this diagram, the quality manager can see that there are wasted steps and the process can be streamlined. Opportunities include finding ways to consolidate areas or re-engineer how the flow works. For instance, x-ray facilities could be included in the treatment rooms.


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