Relations Diagram

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A pictorial representation of the cause-and-effect relationships among elements of a problem or issue.

The relations diagram is used to identify root causes of a problem. It is often used after the cause & effect diagram.


  1. The leader clearly defines (writes) the issue or problem (may be taken directly from the Cause-and-Effect Diagram).
  2. Construct the diagram layout with the effect (issue or problem) in the center of the diagram and all suspected causes, one per block, around the center.
  3. Analyze as a team the relationship between each two factors, asking “Does this affect/influence/exacerbate the other?” Draw arrows from those that influence to those that feel the effect.
  4. Count and list the arrows in and the arrows out for each cause category.
  5. Identify the root causes (many arrows out, few arrows in) and the root effects (many arrows in, few arrows out). Understand that most root effects will disappear without direct action if root causes are addressed.
  6. As a team, study the final diagram to determine root cause and next action steps.

Where can you use the Relations Diagram in the PDSA Cycle?

PDSA_3 x 3 for relations diagram
Why Use the Relations Diagram in the Classroom

  • Use it when the aspects of a complex issue need to be analyzed and understood.
  • The main cause or influence of a problem or issue needs to be identified.

Possible uses of the Relations Diagram:

  • Lines are too long at lunch
  • Not enough time in the library
  • Things are being taken from desks or lockers
  • Understanding school rules
  • Making visitors or new students feel welcome in the classroom
  • Litter on the playground
Example of Using a Relations DiagramRelations Diagram Example
Things to remember about the Relations Diagram

  • Relations Diagrams are useful for looking at complex issues.
  • Relations Diagram is not something that can be done quickly. Often, it takes several discussions to come up with all of the related issues.
  • The issues in a Relations Diagram can change and the Relations Diagram itself can change. It is a dynamic tool. It is never really finished, but something that changes often.

Information above taken from:

Published on January 18, 2012 at 11:33 am Comments (0)

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