Interrelationship Diagram What is an Interrelationship Diagram? An interrelationship diagram ID shows how different issues are related to one another. It helps identify which issues are causing problems and which are an outcome of other actions. It also shows the strength of each influence.

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Sources What is an Interrelationship Digraph? Interrelationship digraphs show cause-and-effect relationships, and help analyze the natural links between different aspects of a complex situation. An interrelationship digraph: Encourages team members to think in multiple directions rather than linearly Explores the cause and effect relationships among all the issues, including the most controversial Allows key issues to emerge naturally rather than to be forced by a dominant or powerful team member Systematically surfaces the basic assumptions and reasons for disagreements among team members Allows a team to identify root cause s even when credible data does not exist When to Use an Interrelationship Digraph When trying to understand links between ideas or cause-and-effect relationships When a complex issue is being analyzed for causes When a complex solution is being implemented After generating an affinity diagram , fishbone diagram , or tree diagram , to more completely explore the relations of ideas How to Construct an Interrelationship Digraph 1.

Draft a Problem Statement If using an original statement not from a previous tool or discussion , write a complete sentence Everyone needs to clearly understand and agree on the problem statement Write or place the problem statement at the top of the workspace 2.

Brainstorm Ideas Brainstorm ideas and write each one on a separate note card or piece of paper. If using with another tool e. Use these ideas to brainstorm other ideas.

Determine Relationships Between Ideas Place the cards in a circle on the wall. For each idea, ask, "Does this idea cause or influence any other idea? Repeat the question for each idea. Draw only one-way relationship arrows in the direction of the stronger cause or influence. Analyze the Diagram Count the arrows in and out for each idea. Write the counts at the bottom of each box. The ones with the most arrows are the key ideas. Note which ideas have primarily outgoing from arrows.

These are basic causes or drivers. Note which ideas have primarily incoming to arrows. These are final effects that also may be critical to address. Be sure to check whether ideas with fewer arrows also are key ideas. The number of arrows is only an indicator, not an absolute rule. Draw bold lines around the key ideas. Next Steps Use common sense when you select the most critical issues to focus on. Issues with very close tallies must be reviewed carefully but in the end, it is a judgment call, not science.

Example Interrelationship Digraph.


Interrelationship Diagram

Variation: matrix diagram An interrelationship diagram is defined as a new management planning tool that depicts the relationship among factors in a complex situation. The interrelationship diagram shows cause-and-effect relationships. Its main purpose is to help identify relationships that are not easily recognizable. When to Use an Interrelationship Diagram When trying to understand links between ideas or cause-and-effect relationships, such as when trying to identify an area of greatest impact for improvement When a complex issue is being analyzed for causes When a complex solution is being implemented In root cause analysis , particularly for: Understanding how different aspects of the problem are connected Seeing relationships between the problem and its possible causes that can be further analyzed Interrelationship Diagram Basic Procedure Materials needed: Sticky notes or cards, large paper surface newsprint or two flipchart pages taped together , marking pens, and tape. Write it on a card or sticky note and place it at the top of the work surface. Brainstorm ideas about the issue and write them on cards or notes.


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It is a quality management tool that encourages creative problem solving in complex scenarios that are intertwined with logical relationships. It simply shows the cause and effect of relationships thus helping analyze the link between different aspects of a complicated situation. This particular project management tool encourages the team members to avoid thinking in a linear way. It also explores the relationships of different issues including controversial ones thus allowing key issues to come out naturally. Interrelationship digraphs are used to understand the cause and effect of relationship especially when a complicated solution is being implemented by the project manager. This type of tool can also be generated only after generating another diagram such as the tree, fishbone and affinity diagrams.

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