Faster Chart Building

Chris Eckert, President

Nov 16, 2015

Leading a productive and efficient cause and effect chart building session is important, especially if you have a large team, or you are pressed for time. The following is an effective technique you can use to speed up the chart construction process and keep your team engaged.

When you start building the cause and effect chart, focus on building the longest, straight-line path possible (don’t add parallel paths at first).  In order to accomplish this, you must listen and write as fast as you possibly can. For example, as soon as someone gives you a cause, immediately ask “What caused that?” and then again after that. Allow no dead time between causes. Your pen should never stop moving because you will be asking for the next cause before you have finished writing the last one. You will be amazed at how fast this path is created (don’t worry about logic at this point—it will be sorted out later). Focus on writing fast and keeping your team talking.  Hint: so as not to disrupt the flow of information, tell your team what you are going to do ahead of time. Once you reach the limits of available causes, go back to the first cause to the right of the focal point and add the next parallel path and work it to its linear end without worrying about the other paths. Keep repeating this pattern.

When you focus on rapid-fire addition of causes, you minimize side discussions and maximize cause generation. Causes will be generated very quickly at first, but will gradually slow down as you exhaust the available information. Once you reach this point, it is time to begin focusing on chart logic.

If you are using this technique, initially, you should be able generate 5-8 causes/minute on the chart.  After 20 minutes, you will be looking at a 40-50 cause chart which will more than likely present some very effective solution choices!