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The relationship diagram highlights the different interactions between elements of a system.


As the name implies, the relationship diagram highlights the different interactions between elements of a system. It is particularly used as part of a problem resolution to establish cause-to-effect relationships.

1-Define the subject to be addressed

The group is set out as a question, the subject you wish to address.

During the work session, the subject must always be visible to everyone and will be written in the center of the work Area: table or table.

The subject should be as accurate as possible to avoid having too many items to classify afterwards. For example, ” Why is my electricity bill so high?”

2-Identify the elements

Then the members of the study Group have to express their ideas. Each person is going to do it on his side and inscribes his ideas on Post-it. Every idea that has to be put on a different Post-It.

3 – Perform a first sorting

All Post-it is collected. As a group, a first sort is done by:

  1. Clarifying every element for everyone to understand.
  2. Eliminating redundant ideas.
  3. Grouping together similar elements.
  4. Giving a simple and recognizable name.

4-Establishing the first relationships

We classify the different Post-It by the level of the causes. The direct causes being closest to the subject, the most indirect causes further away.

It is good practice not to have more than 7 direct causes for good readability.

5 – Use the 5 why

For each of the causes, one ” digs ” it by making the 5 why to identify the root cause. We will complete the whole table and set up all the relationships of causes to effects.

6-Validate the representation

As a group, a last replay is necessary to make sure that you have not forgotten anything or put anything redundant. We will also check the groupings and the relationships of causes to effects.

7-Identify the most important causes

At this point we have clarified our cause-to-effect system. His analysis is rather simple: the most important causes are the ones on which the most elements depend. Otherwise, those where the greatest number of arrows point and the elimination of which will have a big impact.

To help each other, a cause-effect table is developed indicating:



Number of outgoing arrows


Number of incoming arrows

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