One of the more common of these special types of diagrams is the interrelationship digraph. It can be quite useful in spotting the relationships between several concepts as well as locating key issues and drivers.

Overview: What is an interrelationship digraph?

An interrelationship digraph is a diagram that emphasizes direction, focusing on cause-and-effect relationships while aiding in the analysis of linkages between various aspects of complex situations.

4 benefits of an interrelationship digraph

Here are the main benefits of constructing an interrelationship digraph:

1. Thinking beyond the linear

An interrelationship digraph provides the opportunity for teams to think in multiple directions.

2. Cause and effect

This type of digraph fosters the exploration of cause and effect relationships

3. A natural focus on key issues

It allows for the natural emergence of key issues.

4. Root cause identification

An interrelationship digraph helps to identify root causes.

Why is an interrelationship digraph important to understand?

Understanding an interrelationship digraph and how to use it is important to understand for the following reasons:


It can help in the understanding of links between ideas.

Analyzation of complex issues

Having an understanding of interrelationship digraphs is helpful when there is a need to analyze the causes of complex issues.

Complex solutions

This type of digraph is worth knowing how to use when you are going to implement a complex solution.

An industry example of an interrelationship digraph

A sales team is finding that there is not an equal share of resources in the pursuit of quality leads. It feels like a complex issue, so the team leader decides to employ an interrelationship digraph to help break down the subject. Everyone on the team contributes, and they are able to determine what seem to be the main drivers.

4 best practices when thinking about an interrelationship digraph

Here are some of the best practices when putting together an interrelationship digraph:

1. Drafting a problem statement

Make sure everyone involved agrees on and understands the problem statement.

2. Brainstorming

When brainstorming ideas, do not let anything get lost in the ether. Write them all down on separate cards or pieces of paper.

3. Find the relationships

a) Put the cards in a circle on a wall or whiteboard.

b) Think about if each idea influences any of the others. Draw arrows connecting ideas to the ones they influence or cause. Repeat for each idea.

c) Draw one-way arrows in the direction of the stronger influence/cause

4. Analyzation

Here are some pointers when it comes time to analyze the connections between your ideas:

a) Count the in/out arrows for each idea and write the count underneath each box. The boxes with the highest count are your key ideas.

b) Your ideas that have primarily outgoing arrows are your basic causes or drivers.

c) Keep an eye on which ideas have primarily incoming arrows. These are your final effects.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about interrelationship digraphs:

Do interrelationship digraphs work well with other diagramming tools?

Yes. You can use an interrelationship digraph after constructing an affinity diagram, fishbone diagram, or utilizing another similar tool.

How do I best brainstorm with an interrelationship diagram when using other tools?

Take your ideas from the rows or branches with the most details.

How do I pick the most critical issues to focus on?

Let common sense be your guide. Some critical issues are going to take clear precedence over others.

Interrelationship digraphs for solving complex issues

If there are complex issues to sort out with your team, consider utilizing an interrelationship digraph. They can help capture every team member’s point of view and can help better show relationships than more standard diagrams.

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