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As the world continues to evolve, we continue to develop increasingly efficient methods for cause analysis and problem solving in the pursuit of advancement. The fishbone diagram is a prime example of such a method, developed quite some time ago and yet still being used all over the world. The diagram itself isn’t exactly sophisticated, but effectively manages to pinpoint causes leading to a particular event. Essentially, it helps teams capture ideas in the best way possible and stimulate.

This diagram makes it easier for one to display many potential causes for a specific effect or problem. In order to understand more about the fishbone diagram template, read the details below.

What is a Fishbone Diagram?

The fishbone diagram is a very simple tool that permits effective and quick root causes in the pursuit of corrective actions. It is also called as Ishikawa diagram and cause and effect diagram. It is a simple tool that is used for brainstorming issues and reasons of particular problems. Basically, there are various causes grouped into several categories highlighting the causes of the potential issue. This diagram was first introduced by Kaoru Ishikawa in 1968; this is why it is also called as Ishikawa diagram. He introduced this diagram for the quality management process in the Kawasaki shipyards. Owing to the popularity and applications of the process, he soon became the founding fathers of modern management.

The core aim of this diagram is to brainstorm all the potential causes that could cause the difficulty and then go deep inside the factors that are causing the problem eventually. Once the problem is found, they eliminate them which enable the team to focus on why the problem has occurred. Also, it lets you focus on the symptoms or history of the problem. Moreover, analysts can see the real time snap-shot of the collective inputs of the team.

Generally, this fishbone diagram is used to present causality and it has two causes, primary and secondary cause. The first one is the primary cause that could directly lead to the effect while the secondary cause is the one that could lead it to a primary cause which does directly does not have an end effect.

Typically, the Ishikawa diagram is used to determine factors that could potentially lead to a major, overall effect, particularly in quality defect prevention and product design processes. As mentioned above, the causes are grouped into key categories so as to be able to recognize sources and causes for any variations. Those categories included the following.

  • Methods: This section covers the details of the process and some specific requirements for doing it, such as procedures, rules, policies, regulations and laws.
  • People: They are the ones who are involved in the process.
  • Machines: These are the computers, tools, and equipments that are used to fulfill the task and job.
  • Measurements: This is the data that is generated from the process used to evaluate its quality.
  • Environment: These are the conditions, time, location, temperature, and culture in which the process operates.
  • Materials: These are the parts, raw materials, paper, pen that is used to produce the final product.

These elements and causes mentioned above are categorized separately in the fishbone diagram. There are several fishbone diagram templates available on our main website. You can use any of them for resolving your issues and understanding the effects. Our ready-made samples and examples help users get started as fast as lighting.

Downloadable Templates:

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When Can You Form the Fishbone Diagram?

The fishbone diagram is used when you want to determine the major cause or root cause of the problem. One of the best and effective ways to sort these ideas and arouse the teaMs brainstorming in order to know the root cause is the fishbone diagram. Here’s is when you can use the fishbone diagram.

  • When you want to focus the team on the causes instead of symptoms.
  • When you want to focus the team on the causes rather than the problem or issue.
  • When you want to demonstrate and organize several theories as to what the root causes of the problem would be.
  • When you want to see the relationship of various factors contributing to a problem.
  • When you want to get additional insight into the process behaviors.
  • When you want to reveal the important relationships among variables and possible causes.
  • When you present the incidence of certain elements.
  • When you want to display the sequence of related factors.

Uses of Fishbone Diagram

This diagram determines the possible causes of a specific event or problem. Pioneered by Kaoru Ishikawa, he introduced this diagram at Kawasaki for the quality management processes. This diagram can be used in manufacturing, sales process and marketing.

Using the Fishbone Diagram in Manufacturing

Whether it is manufacturing or any other area, the first thing you should do is to clearly know the effect or outcome of the analysis. Later, you can add effect to the diagram, once you agree on the effect. After that, you need to give bones to the fish. The causes are divided into six main branches in manufacturing, which are collectively referred to as the 6 Ms of manufacturingBasically, there is no particular order for these Ms. They include the following.

  • Measurement
  • Machine
  • Material
  • Method
  • Man power
  • Mother nature or Milieu

These 6 Ms are globally recognized standards. These Ms are normally used, but some industry users include more standards to expand it further in order to add more management and maintenance.  In case, your business belongs to manufacturing industry, you can expand the diagram adding other Ms to it.

If necessary, you can provide more names in it so that it all makes more sense.. After that, you can then collaborate on the diagram and identify the various reasons that that have affect on the final result. Using the fishbone diagram, you will be able to see the set of ideas in terms category instead of random or irrelevant ideas.

Using the Fishbone Diagram in Marketing

Marketing is also one of the areas that can be hugely benefited from this diagram. Additionally, it is an aspect that is difficult to gauge. The fishbone diagram is perhaps one of the best ways to see those ideas visually. Just like manufacturing has six Ms, marketing also has 7 Ps, which are listed below:

  • Place
  • Product
  • People
  • Price
  • Promotion
  • Physical evidence
  • Processes

These aspects are the bones of the diagram. All these branches or elements may not necessarily affect the marketing process.

Use the Fishbone Diagram in Sales Process

The sales process is another aspect where it is very helpful and effective. Sales is also categorized in a set. Here are the 5 S’ listed below.

  • Schemes
  • Samples
  • Skin
  • Search
  • Synchronous

How to Use the Fishbone Diagram?

You can use fishbone diagram to understand the cause and effect of the problem. Here are some steps that help you use the fishbone diagram.

Step # 1: Identify the Problem

The first step is to write down what exactly the problem is that you are facing. Then, you have to identify who is involved in it, where and when does it occur. Once you have done all this, then write the problem in the box on the left hand side on the large sheet of paper. After that, make a line across the paper in a horizontal way. This arrangement would like the head of the spine, giving you space to develop ideas.

Step # 2: Look for the Major Factors Involved

The next step is to identify the factors that may be the part of the problem. These may be equipments, systems, external forces, materials or people involved with the problem. In this step, you have to draw out those factors. You have to brainstorm affects of the situation. You can draw line off the spine for this diagram.

Step # 3: Identify the Potential Reasons

In this step, you can identify the potential causes of the problem that could be somehow related to those factors. You can write those potential causes in shorter lines and using fewer words. Those reasons can come off the bones of the diagram. If the cause is large or complex, it is best to break it down into sub causes.

Step # 4: Evaluate the Diagram

In this step, you will possibly have the diagram in front of you. That diagram will determine all the potential reasons of the problem that you thought of. On the basis of the importance and complexity of the problem, you can now investigate those reasons further. With investigation, we mean that you can carry out surveys, set up investigations etc. These will be designed to evaluate which of these potential reasons are actually contributing to the problem. One of the best ways to follow this step is to write all the potential causes of the problem on a sticky note. After that, you can then group the similar problems.

Tips for Using the Fishbone Diagram

Fishbone diagrams are ideal to be used in team meetings. Here are some tips that can work well with the fishbone diagram.

Tip # 1: Communicate the Objective

The first and the foremost thing is to communicate the objective. Before beginning the meeting, make sure that all of you review the objective of the meeting. For instance, if you want to list the potential causes behind the specific problem, make sure that everyone comes prepared before beginning with the objectives.

Tip # 2: Elaborate the Example

It is always helpful to show a fishbone diagram example right in the beginning of the meeting. In that example, you should use something that everyone can relate to. The example would help them in understanding how the process can go about.

Tip # 3: Team Can Include the Potential Causes

Fishbone diagram sessions are just like brainstorming. The ultimate goal is to generate the complete list of possible reasons, without debating ideas and criticizing. Prioritize the possible causes for action/validation once the fishbone diagram is completed.

Tip # 4: Ask the Members to Write Potential Causes

Large sticky notes are good for this practice. Once all the members have written their ideas, you can then ask them to stick on the whiteboard and explain them as well. This practice will keep each and everyone engaged, easing the facilitator’s workload during the meeting.

Tip # 5: Keep It Moving

Make sure that you do not stop on one cause for long. Divide the time accordingly and keep the meeting moving.

Fishbone Diagram Templates to Get Started

If you are also looking for fishbone diagrams, we have several types of fishbone diagram templates to help you get started. You can simply click on any of them and modify and edit it whenever required. Download them today!


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