A Tree diagram is an analytical and planning tool used to break down problems progressively in detail by partitioning bigger problems into smaller ones. It is also called a hierarchy diagram, systematic diagram, and analytical tree. It is one of the seven management tools. These tools are used for planning and managing operations effectively. The basic purpose of the 7M tools is to guide the managers in planning, analysis, and decision making.

A Tree diagram helps you break down big concepts into progressively greater detail. The idea here is to systematically break down a concept into its constituent pieces.

The tree diagram starts with one item that branches into two or more. The branch further split into two or more, and so on. It looks like a tree, with a trunk and multiple branches.

Why Use a Tree Diagram

The objective of the tree diagram is to partition a big idea or problem into finer levels of detail. Doing this will make the idea easier to understand or the problem easier to solve. Developing the tree diagram helps you think step by step from general to specific.

You would progress from left to right with the highest order items / most essential concepts on the left. You would start with the “whys” and progress to the “hows. Alternately, you would start with the “goals” and progress to the “means” of achieving those goals. Furthermore, it is one of the analytical tool for quality improvement programs

The Tree diagram is a helpful tool to outline details relating to a problem, idea, process, or plan.

When to Use Tree Diagram

Six sigma team uses a tree diagram to analyze the process in detail. It helps to develop a systematic step-by-step strategy to achieve the goal. It is one of the root cause analysis technique like 5Why to identify root cause in step by step method. However, 5Why handles only one cause at a time, but the tree diagram can narrow down and address multiple possible causes in a diagram.

The purpose of the tree diagram is to explore the ways and means to achieve the project objective. Develop a list of alternative means and ways to present them in a visual understandable form.

An Interrelationship diagram helps you see relations and influences between several concepts. Similarly, the Affinity diagram gathers all ideas from the team brainstorming session and groups them based on their natural relationship. These tools help to present the data in a useful way, but taking actions or implementing solutions requires further analysis. Hence, Six Sigma team uses a tree diagram after other analytical tools uncovered the issues.

How to create a Tree Diagram

  • Determine the goal statement of the project or problem. Place the goal on the top or left side of the diagram based on a vertical tree or horizontal tree
  • Identify key tasks and subtasks to be accomplished to achieve the project goal.
  • Brainstorm all possible answers for each task and subtask. The diagram is to progress from generic to more specific
  • Verify all the items and identify any additional tasks that need to include in the tree to achieve the goal
  • Continue the exercise till you reach the fundamental elements. In other words, continue until all possible options are exhausted.

Advantages

  • Visualization is simple and easy to construct the diagram
  • Easy to understand the dependencies
  • It is comprehensive- represents the outcomes and traces up to the goal of the project
  • Great flexibility- easy to use in any field to assist management

Disadvantages

  • Though it is easy to construct, often confusing with whole diagram visualization of information
  • Cumbersome with various branches after a certain limit
  • Difficult to add new branches in the middle, as it needs to move the total structure to the lower levels of the tree

“If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.”

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Tree diagrams benefit over affinity diagrams.

Affinity diagram is one of the planning tools to gather all ideas from the team brainstorming session and group them based on their natural relationship. It only helps to present useful ideas, but taking actions or implementing solutions requires further analysis. In contrast, the tree diagram progressively breaks down problems by partitioning bigger problems into smaller ones. Tree diagram is a systematic diagram; It visually depicts the tasks and subtasks to be accomplished to achieve the project goal.

Tree Diagram Videos

Six Sigma Black Belt Certification Tree Diagram Questions:

Question: After the major headings of a tree diagram have been broken into greater detail, what is the next step that should be taken? (Taken from ASQ sample Black Belt exam.)

(A) Assemble the right team
(B) Review the diagram for logical flow and completeness
(C) Revise the problem statement
(D) Choose the tree diagram goal statement

Answer:

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Question: A tree diagram can be used to do which of the following?

(A) Allow a team to identify root causes even when no credible data exist
(B) Show a causality relationship
(C) Present data from a check sheet
(D) Reveal the true level of a problem’s complexity

Answer:

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