A tree diagram can be used in different scenarios and for different purpose. It start with a main item which is then broken into a few subgroups, then each if those are broken into additional subgroups for additional details.
Each time an item is broken into subgroups, they are connected to the item with branches. This make the structure of the diagram look like a tree which is why it is called a tree diagram.
A lot of people might associate tree diagrams with probability calculation in school, but are often used at work for problem solving or brainstorming events.

Tree Diagram for Problem Solving

When using a tree diagram for problem solving, the issue is listed as the main item. This could for example be “Reduce scrap on a production line from 5 to 4%”.
In order to reduce the scrap by 1%, more details are needed regarding this issue to be able to achieve this improvement.
From the main item we could branch out the defects that contribute to the 5% scrap on the production line. For the main defects we branch out the potential causes, and continue further down to identify the root cause.
From there actions can be defined to eliminate them and achieve an improvement of 1% on the production line being reviewed.

Other Types of Tree Diagrams

The tree diagram can be used for other purposes than problem solving, a few other examples of where it can be useful is listed below.

  • Making decision as part of an impact analysis
  • Cause and Effect Analysis
  • Predicting how a competitor will react when a new product is released
  • When taking notes

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Tree Diagram