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Fishbone Diagrams For Root Cause Analysis

Fishbone Diagram

The fishbone diagram is one of the pioneered tools used for quality management. In modern-day problems, many organizations or managers of the firms in the contemporary business environment fails to identify the real cause of the problems. Therefore, as a result, it will ultimately lead to the failure of the project or any operation of the business. Furthermore, in the field of construction projects, it has been observed that one of the major problems in this is related to the errors in the measurement process. The main issue in this context is to obtain optimal accuracy (Luca, 2016). Along with this, another observed issue in this field is related to errors in the evaluation of parts precision (Liliana, 2016).  Likewise, there are several other problems that occurred in the construction project such as poor design, inconsistencies in time and cost management, etc. (Al-Zwainy et al, 2018) Moreover, it is also important to note that, quality is the primary factor of any business entity and any ignorance in marinating the quality of the product or service will lead to severe consequences in terms of loss of market share or customer dissatisfaction. Thus, there are a lot of challenges and issues in the management of quality of project delivery, product, or services that are being faced by most of the business entities on a daily basis. Thus, identifying the root cause of failure still remains one of the most challenging aspects in the domain of quality management.

The fishbone diagram, also known as the Ishikawa diagram, Herringbone diagram, and the cause and the effect diagram is one of the seven basic tools used for quality control. It is used to identify the root cause of the problems. Moreover, with the help of graphical representation, it helps the managers to visualize the relationship between effects and cause of the problems in a systematic way. Although, it was designed for the purpose of identifying problems related to business and management. However, gradually, it is now widely used in other fields also such as medicine, engineering, computer science, and others (Li et al, 2011).

Thus, the primary objective of this essay is to study how the fishbone diagram can potentially be used to analyze the root cause of the problems. The next section of this essay will discuss the application of the fishbone diagram in identifying the root cause of the stated problem. Furthermore, it also contains the advantages and disadvantages of using a fishbone diagram. Towards the end, the easy will reflect the essential findings of the overall discussions. 

What Is A Fishbone Diagram And How To Draw It? 

As per the analysis of Barsalo (2020), root cause analysis can be defined as a way to identify the real source of the failure of the project or product. This analysis is usually done to identify the right solution at a right time. The report of the same author suggests that the process of root cause analysis can be triggered by integrating a fishbone diagram or Ishikawa diagram. The Fishbone diagram derived its name from a Japanese professor, Kaoru Ishikawa; hence, it is also known as the Ishikawa diagram. It was developed in the year 1960 while getting served with the Kawasaki shipyards in the process of quality management (Rodriguez, 2020). Fishbone diagram uses brainstorming technique to point out the causes of the problems. All the findings are shown in the form of graphical representation. This graphical representation resembles the skeleton of the fish. The main causal categories are represented as bones attached to the spine of the fish. Thus, the way of representation of root-cause analysis resembles the skeleton structure of the fish; hence, it got its name as fishbone diagram. 

In the Fishbone Diagram help , the problems are represented on the head side of the skeletal diagram of the fishbone. The causes of the identified problems are represented as the bone of the fish extending to the left of the fish head. There are six main categories of the causes in the field of the manufacturing industry. These are the method, equipment, man, environment, material, and measurement. By the term method, the causes of the problems are related to the process or procedures used while working on a project. Equipment is related to the problems that occurred from the use of the machine in the process. Furthermore, in the context of man or manpower, the possible problems are identified and listed down. Likewise, the problems related to the environment or surroundings that results in the failure of the project are identified. The category related to material helps the team to identify the problems related to the use of materials in the overall process. Finally, the sixth category of the cause of the problem is measurement. In this context, the team tries to analyze the possible causes related to measurement such as errors, faults in measurement devices, etc. (Ishakawa, 1985). 

Similarly, in the field of marketing, there are seven factors or causes that can lead to the failure of the marketing project. These seven factors are categorized as the product, price, place, promotion, people, positioning, and packaging (Lapaas, 2020). Any ignorance in any of the seven factors in the marketing of the product or service will lead to severe problems. Along with this, in the field of the service industry, there are five important factors that can effectively become the major cause of the problem in this sector. These five factors or causes are surroundings, suppliers, systems, skills, and safety (Usmani, 2020). The possible causes related to suppliers are lack of communication channel, false information, or human resource issues. Likewise, causes of the problems related to the system can be a system failure or lack of skilled operators. Thus, in the same way, there can be causes related to the identified that are drawn in the form of fishbone which ultimately helps the team to analyze the root cause of the problems in any industries. 

Having discussed all the possible and probable categories of the causes of the problem, the main intention of this essay is to analyze how to conduct root cause analysis of the problem by using a fishbone diagram or Ishikawa diagram. Before this, it is extremely important to note that cause and effect analysis or fishbone diagram does not only help the business organization to identify the underlying source of issues or problems but it also helps them to develop a system in order to maintain sustainability towards the correction or solution. Moreover, it also enhances the operational activities of the business organization (Belyh, 2019). 

In order to use a fishbone diagram for cause and effect analysis, it is important to first draw the structural framework of the model. It involves four steps to draw a fishbone diagram. These four steps are related to the identification of the problem, identification, and categorization of the causes of the problems, brainstorming of the main causes, and the analysis of the fishbone diagram. Thus, with the help of these four processes, the team of the business organization can effectively analyze the root cause of the problems that they were facing at the time of the execution of the business operations or projects 

In the first step of drawing the fishbone diagram, the team of the business organization needs to identify all the problems that they are facing. Any industry, whether it is the construction industry, manufacturing industry, service industry, etc can use a fishbone diagram to identify the problem. All the problems, issues, and challenges need to be identified by the team. Along with this, the next important thing that needs to be done is to identify the time and place of the occurrence of the problem (Trout). Assignment helper said every detail of the problems should be mentioned by the team. The next step involves in this is to write the problem statement in a box and to draw an arrow towards it (Koripadu and Subbaiah, 2014). Apart from this, the problem statement should be in the form of an operational definition that will help the stakeholders to understand the problems clearly. 

The second step to draw a fishbone diagram in order to conduct cause and effect analysis is the identification and categorization of the causes of the identified problems. It decides the major causes of the problems. In the structural model of the fishbone diagram, these causes and sub-division of the causes are needed to be placed parallelly from the main arrow stretched towards the left of the head of the fish or box (Harrington, 2016). In this step, the team of the business organization should categorize the problems by observing the type of problems. By asking questions like, Is any man is linked with the problems? Is there any problem with the machine used in the business operation? Was there any fault while measuring the results of the business operation? Likewise, it is important to discuss all the factors or causes of the problems in order to identify the real cause. For example, the causes of the problems related to the low quality of the product can be related to suppliers, materials, price, etc. In this way, the team needs to classify the causes of the problems. However, some critical care should be taken to identify the problems and their causes apparently. The goal and objective of the team should be clearly understood by all the team members (Rodriguez, 2020). To know more take assistance from university assignment help UK experts of SourceEssay.

The third step in the analysis of the cause and effect relationship by using a fishbone diagram is to brainstorm the main causes of each category of the cause. The causes of every category need to be drawn as twigs of the arrow of the categorical causes (Doggett, 2005). The team needs to brainstorm all the causes by asking twice and thrice, why it happens (Lynch, 2019). Apart from this, thinking of the five whys method will help the team to reach the root cause of the problems.

The final step in the development of a fishbone diagram is the analysis of the diagram from every possible perspective. After arranging the causes in their respective categories and completing the diagram, the next step is to discuss and examine each identified problem by the team in order to identify the root cause. In this step, further classification of the causes can be added depending upon the discussion and analysis of the diagram. To analyze it minutely, a team of the business organization needs to use multiple research methods such as surveys, focus groups, and interviews. This will also help the team and manager to investigate the case and its effects on the business of the organization. Moreover, it will also clarify how each cause or sub-cause is directly or indirectly responsible for the particular problems that are being faced by the team in performing business-related activities. On the basis of the identified root cause of the problem, the team can effectively identify the solution to the problem which will help to achieve the desired effect (Radziwill, 2017). 

In the entire process of analyzing the root cause of the problem by using a fishbone diagram, the tool of ‘five whys’ is extremely important that ultimately provides immense support to the team to recognize the root cause of the problems . Study help promotes deep thinking ability among the team to solve the identified problem by recognizing its main causes (Serrat, 2009). 

Application Of Fishbone Diagram In Analyzing The Root Cause Of Project Construction Delay

In order to understand how the fishbone diagram can effectively help the managers and team to analyze the root causes of the problem, this section of the essay will discuss its application. In the construction industry, one of the major problems faced by the project manager is project delay. Project delay is a severe problem that leads to adverse consequences in terms of cost overrun and poor quality (Mbala et al, 2018).  With the help of the Ishikawa diagram or a fishbone diagram, the project team and manager can effectively analyze the root cause of the project delay by following the essential steps. Thus the problem has been identified already.  Furthermore, the analysis of the research study of Septiawan and Bekti (2016) reflects that the possible categories of the causes of the problem of project delay are the method, materials, machine, measurement, and man. Each category of the cause has a direct impact on the project delay.

The brainstorming step helps to identify the main causes involved in each category. In the first identified category of the cause, that is method, the possible causes are related to late planning for piping, late site mobilization, unmatched technical bid evaluation with the requirement, late use of project execution procedure, and many more. Moreover, in the next identified category, the cause of materials is also contributing to delayed delivery of the project. For example, causes such as non-availability of detailed documents on time, late development of plot plan, late decision-making procedure, and lack of availability of materials on time are some of the potential reasons for the occurrence of the problem.  A plot plan is a plan related to architecture, landscape engineering architecture, etc. It has been analyzed that it was delayed by nine months of the actual date of the submission of the plan. Likewise, causes related to machinery factors are late manufacturing and fabrication of materials. Materials such as carbon steel pipe, stainless steel pipe, control system, cable tray, and others were not ready on time. Furthermore, in the context of measurement, factors such as late development of project safety report, delayed data-sheet, late calculation, delayed report of oil and site investigation, etc are some of the major causes that are directly interlinked to the major problem of project delay. The final identification of the category, that is man, factors such as late reporting of the basic design of engineering, six-month delay in process flow diagram, five months delay in contract mobilization were some of the critical causes that created trouble for the project team.  Further analysis of the fishbone diagram with the help of the Pareto chart implicates that the major root cause of the problem of project delay was ‘man’. Approx one-third of the factors are connected to the cause-category of man.

In addition to this, it can be affirmed that all the identified factors and causes of project delay show the relationship between one another (this relation is delayed time) which ultimately lead to one given situation-project delay (Abdel-Hamid and Abdelhaleem, 2019). Thus, cheap assignment help experts analyzed that how the fishbone diagram can significantly help the team to identify and analyze the root cause of the problem by following some critical steps.

Advantages And Disadvantages Of Using Fishbone Diagram For Analyzing The Root Cause Of The Problem 

The application of the fishbone diagram in analyzing the root cause of the problem has already provided deep insights about its advantages and benefits in managing the project or development of the product by ensuring its quality. Identification of the root causes prevents the team to repeat the same mistakes again while working on particular business projects or activities. There are many advantages of a fishbone diagram such as it helps the manager and the team to develop a visual representation of the problem that establishes the links between the potential causes and their results on the business. Another advantage is that it demonstrates all the causes of the problem simultaneously. It also improves the decision making of the project team and helps them to determine possible actions to correct the problem (Castel, 2018). Along with this, the fishbone diagram prevents the team to adopt traditional thinking methods that will eventually distract the team members from the actual problems. In the traditional problem-solving methods, problems were solved without actually identifying the deep cause or source of the problem. Moreover, it provides temporary relief from the problem as it occurs again. Thus, the fishbone diagram method of root cause analysis effectively eliminates the traditional problem-solving methods. The technique of brainstorming is quite advantageous as it helps the team to engage in solving the problem (Belyh, 2019).

 Paradoxically, along with several advantages of the fishbone diagram in analyzing the root cause of the problems, there are some disadvantages that need acute discussion. On one hand, brainstorming helps the team to draw possible causes of the problem; it can also result in loss of time and consumption of a lot of energy. Moreover, assignment writing help predicted it does not provide concrete facts and evidence of the problem; it is only a collection of multiple opinions of the team members. In addition to this, it is difficult to stay reliable on the fishbone diagram for big and complex projects as it contains a lot of causes and factors that managers may get confused to deal with the cause and effect relationship. Moreover, verification among the causal relationships is also inadequate in this technique of quality control (Bose, 2012). Another limitation is that the fishbone diagram cannot isolate the specific factors that are responsible for the problem (Islam et al, 2016).  

The foremost intention of this essay was to evaluate how the fishbone diagram is effective in the analysis of the root cause of the problems. The discussion includes major categories of the causes of problems in three different sectors of manufacturing, servicing, and marketing. After this, it has discussed four major steps of analyzing the root causes of the problems including identification of the problem, identification of categories, brainstorming of the possible causes, and analysis. Further, it also provided evidence of the application of the fishbone diagram’s effectiveness in analyzing the root cause of the project delay. In this analysis, it has been observed that the categorical factor of ‘man’ is the main cause of the problem in the project delay in a particular construction project. In addition, the discussion of advantages has implicated that how a fishbone diagram is more effective than the traditional way of solving the problem. Thus, to conclude, it can be stated that the fishbone diagram technique of quality control is very influential and beneficial to manage the business projects; however, a clear understanding of its inappropriate implementation needs to be considered in order to avoid distractions and loss of time and energy.

Luca, L. (2016). A study on quality analysis measuring process.  RevistaDurabilitatesifiabilitate , (2), 68-72.

Al-Zwainy, F., Mohammed, I. A., &Varouqa, I. F. (2018). Diagnosing the causes of failure in the construction sector using root cause analysis technique.  Journal of Engineering ,  2018 .

Li, S. S., & Lee, L. C. (2011). Using fishbone analysis to improve the quality of proposals for science and technology programs.  Research Evaluation ,  20 (4), 275-282.

Rodriguez, D. (2020). How to Use the Fishbone Diagrams for Root Cause Analysis. Invensis. Retrieved from: https://www.invensislearning.com/blog/fishbone-diagram-for-root-cause-analysis/

Ishakawa,K. (1985). What is Total Quality Control? The Japanese Way. Retrieved from: https://www.six-sigma-material.com/Fishbone-Diagram.html

Lapaas, T. (2020) How to use Cause and Effect Analysis to Easily Solve any Problem. Retrieved from: https://lapaas.com/how-to-use-cause-and-effect-analysis/

Usmani, F. (2020). Fishbone (Cause and Effect or Ishikawa) Diagram. Retrieved from: https://pmstudycircle.com/2014/07/fishbone-cause-and-effect-or-ishikawa-diagram/

Belyh. A. (2019). How to use cause and effect analysis to solve any problem. Cleverrism. Retrieved from: https://www.cleverism.com/how-to-use-cause-and-effect-analysis-to-solve-any-problem/

Koripadu, M., &Subbaiah, K. V. (2014). Problem solving management using Six Sigma tools & techniques.  International Journal of Scientific and Technology Research ,  3 (2), 91-93.

Harrington, H. J. (2016). Cause-and-Effect Diagram.  The Innovation Tools Handbook, Volume 2: Evolutionary and Improvement Tools that Every Innovator Must Know , 5.

Doggett, A. M. (2005). Root cause analysis: a framework for tool selection.  Quality Management Journal ,  12 (4), 34-45.

Serrat, O. (2009). The Five Whys.  Knowledge Solutions ,  30 .

Radziwill, N. (2017). Creating ishikawa (fishbone) diagrams with R.  Software Quality Professional ,  20 (1), 47-48.

Septiawan, D. B., &Bekti, R. (2016). Analysis of Project Construction Delay Using Fishbone Diagram at PT. RekayasaIndustri.  Journal of business and management ,  5 (5), 634-650.

Abdel-Hamid, M., &Abdelhaleem, H. M. (2019). Improving the Construction Industry Quality Using the Seven Basic Quality Control Tools.  Journal of Minerals and Materials Characterization and Engineering ,  7 (06), 412.

Bose, T. K. (2012). Application of fishbone analysis for evaluating supply chain and business process-a case study on the St James Hospital.  International Journal of Managing Value and Supply Chains (IJMVSC) ,  3 (2), 17-24.

Islam, M., Naisra, S., Pritom, S. T., & Rahman, M. A. (2016). Application of Fishbone Analysis for Evaluating Supply Chain and Business Process-A Case Study on KMART.  Industrial Engineering Letters ,  6 (7), 36-42.

Liliana, L. (2016, November). A new model of Ishikawa diagram for quality assessment. In  IOP Conference Series: Materials Science and Engineering  (Vol. 161, No. 1, p. 012099). IOP Publishing.

Mbala, M., Aigbavboa, C., &Aliu, J. (2018, July). Causes of delay in various construction projects: A literature review. In  International Conference on Applied Human Factors and Ergonomics  (pp. 489-495). Springer, Cham.

Fishbone Diagram in Education Essay

For this brainstorming activity, I decided to apply a fishbone diagram to discuss possible solutions for the low reading performance of some students. The teachers involved in the process were participating in the discussion and sharing the ideas. The chosen approach helped them structure their thoughts because everyone added at least four branches to the central arrow of the fishbone diagram. It can be concluded that the selected method had a positive impact on the team members and ensured proper cooperation by helping shape the debate and identifying causes and solutions for the issue.

My role as a leader, in this case, was to guide the teachers and explain to them ways in which they can visually present their ideas to ensure a more efficient discussion. I used a PowerPoint presentation to provide information on how to use the fishbone diagram and the components that help find a solution. What worked, in this case, is the process of identifying causes that contribute to the problem. The aspect that did not work became evident after the activity was over because some team members wanted to add more arrows to the fishbone diagram since they had new ideas; thus, some thoughts were left out of the debate.

Several aspects and skills should be enhanced to improve the experience both for team members and for me as a leader. I will need to dedicate more time to the initial process of problem discussion to ensure that everyone can think over all possible causes and solutions and add them as branches to the diagram. Additionally, it is helpful to add categories to the layout to ensure better structuring for the ideas. Finally, I would leave the created fishbone diagram on a board so that teachers would be able to add thoughts to it afterward.

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Fishbone Diagram: Determining Cause and Effect

Fishbone Diagram

What is a Fishbone Diagram?

A fishbone diagram is a cause-and-effect discovery tool that helps figure out the reason(s) for defects, variations or failures within a process. In other words, it helps break down, in successive layers, root causes that potentially contribute to an effect.  Sometimes called an Ishikawa diagram or cause-and-effect analysis, a fishbone diagram is one of the main tools used in a root cause analysis .

A fishbone diagram, as the name suggests, mimics a fish skeleton. The underlying problem is placed as the fish’s head (facing right) and the causes extend to the left as the bones of the skeleton; the ribs branch off the back and denote major causes, while sub-branches branch off of the causes and denote root causes. These causes mimic the bones of the fish skeleton. The construction of the fishbone can branch off to as many levels as is needed to determine the causes of the underlying problem.

The concept of the fishbone diagram is said to have been around since the 1920s, but it was popularized by Japanese professor of engineering, Kaoru Ishikawa, who, most notably, put into place the quality management processes for the Kawasaki shipyards. One of the more famous uses of the fishbone diagram wasn’t used to find causes of existing problems, but rather in the design phase to prevent problems.  Mazda Motors used fishbones diagrams to design the Miata (MX5) sports car. Details down to the design of the car’s doors, so drivers could rest their arm on it while driving, were considered.

In nearly any industry or business, variation is quality’s and efficiency’s kryptonite. Once an order has been placed, a predictable and standardized process should be followed through to delivery. Variation in that process usually means variation in the final product. Fishbone diagrams are a great tool to either determine potential variables in a process to mitigate defects or failures, or to figure out what’s causing a defect or failure that is currently occurring.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Fishbone Diagrams

As we dive into when and how to use a fishbone diagram, it’s important to note the advantages and disadvantages that can present themselves when using this root cause analysis tool. Advantages go in accordance with the purpose and method of the diagram.

  • Help identify cause and effect relationships with underlying problems,
  • Help facilitate joint brainstorming discussions,
  • The brainstorming process encourages broad thinking, keeping teams from limited thinking patterns that can lead to getting stuck,
  • The process of asking why something happened repeatedly at each stage helps drill down to one or more root causes,
  • Help prioritize relevant causes, so underlying root causes are addressed first.

Some disadvantages that can present themselves relate to the greatest strengths of the fishbone diagram.

  • The brainstorming process can produce irrelevant potential causes along with relevant ones, which can result in confusion and a time drain.
  • Complex diagrams with multiple factors can lead to a jumbled mess that is too difficult to display in a fishbone diagram.
  • Fishbone diagrams can lend themselves to the divergent approach – the temptation to identify and fix everything that might be causing the problem. This usually leads to a low success rate because hardly any team has the resources to fix every potential cause. For example, if you complete a fishbone diagram and it has 40 potential causes, the team will be left feeling like the problem is too big to handle.

Fishbone Diagram: The 6 Ms

One of the first steps in creating a fishbone diagram is determining the factors that contribute to variations within a process. Ishikawa describes these contributing factors as the 6 Ms in the manufacturing world: man, machine, method, material, measurement and Mother Nature. These 6 Ms influence variation in all processes and serve as the first six main “bones” of your fishbone.

the 6 Ms

Let’s take a look at how the 6 Ms are defined and how they can contribute to process variation.

  • Manpower - the operational and/or functional labor of people engaged in the design and delivery of a product. This is considered a fairly rare “cause” of a given problem. Typically, if manpower is identified as a cause of an unwanted effect, it’s often a factor of another 6 M.
  • Method – a production process and its contributing service delivery processes. Frequently, processes are found to have too many steps, signoffs, and other activities that don’t contribute or create much value. When not streamlined, simplified and standardized, processes can be confusing and hard to follow.
  • Machine - systems, tools, facilities and equipment used for production. Often, machines, tools and facilities with their underlying support systems are mismanaged or incapable of delivering a desired output due to technical or maintenance issues.
  • Material - raw materials, components and consumables needed to produce a desired end product. Materials are often mismanaged by way of being incorrectly specified, mislabeled, stored improperly, out of date, among other factors.
  • Mother Nature (Environment) – environmental factors that are unpredictable and uncontrollable like weather, floods, earthquakes, fire, etc. While many environmental factors are predictable and can be considered manageable, there are some unavoidable environmental factors that some facilities find they are not prepared for.
  • Measurement – manual or automatic inspections and physical measurements (distance, volume, temperature, pressure, etc.). At times, measurements can be inconsistent, making it hard to use the data to form repeatable conclusions that help nail down a consistent cause.

The 6Ms are often used as a starting point for the spine of a fishbone diagram (which denotes the potential causes of the problem statement). There won’t always be six causes, so you can add or subtract them as necessary. Once you have the basic structure of the fishbone diagram, you and your team can collaborate and identify the various causes affecting the final outcome. This is very often done using the 5 Whys technique.

Fishbone Diagram and the 5 Whys

You’ll often hear of the fishbone diagram being used closely with another common root cause analysis tool: the 5 Whys. Both of these tools, although different in how they’re executed, help get to the root cause of a problem quickly and figure out why the problem is happening. They also complement each other nicely when determining the cause and effect relationship of an issue because they determine the cause (why something happens) and the effect (what happens).

The 5 Whys method, like the fishbone diagram, starts with an underlying problem statement and then proceeds to ask the question “why?” five times. Each answer to a “why?” question forms the basis of the next question. For example, if your problem statement reads, “my car stopped in the middle of the road,” you’d ask, “why did my car stop?” Because it ran out of gas; “why did it run out of gas?” Because I didn’t buy any on my way home; “why didn’t I buy any gas on my way home?” Because I didn’t have any money; “why didn’t I have any money?” Because I lost it all gambling; and so on until you get to the root cause.

So how do the two relate? The 5 Whys can be used as an individual tool or in tandem with a fishbone diagram. When using it with a fishbone diagram, once you’ve established the main causes (generally the 6 Ms), you can use the 5 Whys to drill down on various root causes that form the sub-branches off of each branch. Asking “why?” is essentially what your brainstorming session involves when creating a fishbone diagram. When you ask why a cause happened, you write it as a branch stemming from the appropriate category.

For example, say your fishbone diagram has a sub-cause of “lighting” under the “Mother Nature (environment)” category of the 6 Ms; however, it’s not clear how lighting can lead to a failure.  In this instance, lighting should be investigated further – what if the lighting caused a technician to make a mistake resulting in a part not being installed properly? If that’s the case, the part not being installed properly would be listed on the fishbone diagram under the “method” category of the 6 Ms.

In other words, if a part isn’t correctly installed, use the 5 Whys on that part of the fishbone diagram to investigate further. In this case, the lighting may be a contributing factor, but it shouldn’t take priority over a part not being installed correctly. Each time the 5 Whys is used, expand the fishbone diagram. For instance, you may end up with a branch of the fishbone diagram looking like this: Material – part not installed correctly – employee skipped a step – work area too dark – poor lighting – light bulb is burned out.

5 whys

In this example, the 5 Whys helped fill out a section of the fishbone diagram properly by leading to the true cause of the failure: the light bulb being burned out. In this case, you can retrain employees all you want but the same employee or anyone else, for that matter, may make the same mistake or another mistake if the poor lighting issue isn’t corrected.

Creating a Fishbone Diagram

The fishbone diagram technique combines brainstorming and mind mapping to discover the cause and effect relationship of an underlying problem. It pushes you to consider nearly every possible cause of an issue instead of just getting stuck on the most obvious ones. Not only does it help you get to the root cause of a problem, it also uncovers bottlenecks in your processes and identify areas where your processes aren’t working.  Let’s take a look at how to create a fishbone diagram is four steps using an example.

1. Identify the problem.

The first step in creating a fishbone diagram is agreeing upon and writing down the exact problem you’re facing. Have your team figure out who’s involved, what the problem is and when and where it occurs.

Next, on a whiteboard, write the problem statement in a box on the right-hand side and draw a horizontal line protruding left from the problem statement. The problem statement resembles the head of the fish and the horizontal line resembles the spine, giving you room to develop ideas.

Our example below identifies a problem of a maintenance technician slipping and injuring himself during a routine inspection.

Fishbone Diagram Step 1

2. Brainstorm the major categories of causes.

Step two is deciding how to categorize the causes of the problem at hand – the factors that may be part of the problem. These could be equipment, materials, systems, external forces, people, etc. In a manufacturing setting, they usually revolve around the 6 Ms we discussed earlier.

As you identify each cause, draw a line off the spine of the fish for each factor and label each line at the top. In our example, the team identifies the following factors and places them on the diagram:

  • Method, and

Fishbone Diagram Step 2

3. Identify possible causes.

Step three really kicks off the brainstorming session as you identify possible causes of the problem that may be related to each factor. Visualize these possible causes by drawing shorter lines off of the “bones” of the diagram. If a particular cause is a bit more complex, feel free to draw smaller sub-branch lines coming off of the “cause” line.

Below, the team identifies the following causes and adds them to the fishbone diagram, slowly filling out the skeleton of the fish.

  • People – Inspector, maintenance staff, MRO staff, supply staff
  • Material – Parts used on machines
  • Method – Inspection training, maintenance training, inspection and maintenance procedures
  • Machine – Inspection history, maintenance history, age of the machine

Fishbone Diagram Step 3

4. Analyze the diagram.

By now, you should have a full fishbone diagram showing all possible causes of the problem statement. Using tools like the 5 Whys, investigations and surveys, you can now investigate the problem further and test to see which of these potential causes is, in fact, contributing to the problem.

In our example, the team has determined the most likely cause of the problem is the service manuals need to be updated to specify which type of seal and seal material needs to be ordered for the machine in question. On the surface, it looked as if the cause might have been related to improper maintenance practices that lead to a leak.

A helpful tip for this step is to write all possible cause of the problem on sticky notes, so you can group similar ones together on the whiteboard without having to erase and rewrite so much.

Helpful Tips for Creating a Fishbone Diagram

  • Organize an appropriate team to undertake the task of creating a fishbone diagram. Add team members from multiple areas that are involved, either directly or indirectly. Team members that deal directly with the problem at hand provide valuable insight, while team members who are considered on the outside looking in can help with keeping the bias to a minimum.
  • Clarify the major cause categories. The 6 Ms are a good starting point and can encompass a lot of causes, keeping them classified and organized; however, make sure you get more detailed as you fill out your diagram for clarity’s sake.
  • Don’t forget the 5 Whys technique when you’re analyzing your fishbone diagram. Asking “why?” helps get to the root cause more quickly.
  • Consider a multi-voting technique to help identify the root cause from everyone’s ideas. This might look like each team member identifying their top three root causes. You could ask each team member to put three checkmarks or colored sticky dots next to each “bone” or branch they believe are the root causes that need to be addressed.
  • Consider other cause-and-effect techniques if your problem looks like it’s becoming too complex for a fishbone diagram. If your diagram is becoming cluttered and confusing, it might be time to consider a root cause analysis tool like FMEA .

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  • What Is a Fishbone Diagram? | Templates & Examples

What Is a Fishbone Diagram? | Templates & Examples

Published on January 2, 2023 by Tegan George . Revised on July 26, 2023.

A fishbone diagram is a problem-solving approach that uses a fish-shaped diagram to model possible root causes of problems and troubleshoot possible solutions. It is also called an Ishikawa diagram, after its creator, Kaoru Ishikawa, as well as a herringbone diagram or cause-and-effect diagram.

Fishbone diagrams are often used in root cause analysis , to troubleshoot issues in quality management or product development. They are also used in the fields of nursing and healthcare, or as a brainstorming and mind-mapping technique many students find helpful.

Table of contents

How to make a fishbone diagram, fishbone diagram templates, fishbone diagram examples, advantages and disadvantages of fishbone diagrams, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about fishbone diagrams.

A fishbone diagram is easy to draw, or you can use a template for an online version.

  • Your fishbone diagram starts out with an issue or problem. This is the “head” of the fish, summarized in a few words or a small phrase.
  • Next, draw a long arrow, which serves as the fish’s backbone.
  • From here, you’ll draw the first “bones” directly from the backbone, in the shape of small diagonal lines going right-to-left. These represent the most likely or overarching causes of your problem.
  • Branching off from each of these first bones, create smaller bones containing contributing information and necessary detail.
  • When finished, your fishbone diagram should give you a wide-view idea of what the root causes of the issue you’re facing could be, allowing you to rank them or choose which could be most plausible.

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There are no built-in fishbone diagram templates in Microsoft programs, but we’ve made a few free ones for you to use that you can download below. Alternatively, you can make one yourself using the following steps:

  • In a fresh document, go to Insert > Shapes
  • Draw a long arrow from left to right, and add a text box on the right-hand side. These serve as the backbone and the head of the fish.
  • Next, add lines jutting diagonally from the backbone. These serve as the ribs, or the contributing factors to the main problem.
  • Next, add horizontal lines jutting from each central line. These serve as the potential causes of the problem.

Lastly, add text boxes to label each function.

You can try your hand at filling one in yourself using the various blank fishbone diagram templates below, in the following formats:

Fishbone diagram template Excel

Download our free Excel template below!


Fishbone diagram template Word

Download our free Word template below!


Fishbone diagram template PowerPoint

Download our free PowerPoint template below!


Fishbone diagrams are used in a variety of settings, both academic and professional. They are particularly popular in healthcare settings, particularly nursing, or in group brainstorm study sessions. In the business world, they are an often-used tool for quality assurance or human resources professionals.

Fishbone diagram example #1: Climate change

Let’s start with an everyday example: what are the main causes of climate change?


Fishbone diagram example #2: Healthcare and nursing

Fishbone diagrams are often used in nursing and healthcare to diagnose patients with unclear symptoms, or to streamline processes or fix ongoing problems. For example: why have surveys shown a decrease in patient satisfaction?


Fishbone diagram example #3: Quality assurance

QA professionals also use fishbone diagrams to troubleshoot usability issues, such as: why is the website down?


Fishbone diagram example #4: HR

Lastly, an HR example: why are employees leaving the company?


Fishbone diagrams come with advantages and disadvantages.

  • Great tool for brainstorming and mind-mapping, either individually or in a group project.
  • Can help identify causal relationships and clarify relationships between variables .
  • Constant iteration of “why” questions really drills down to root problems and elegantly simplifies even complex issues.


  • Can lead to incorrect or inconsistent conclusions if the wrong assumptions are made about root causes or the wrong variables are prioritized.
  • Fishbone diagrams are best suited to short phrases or simple ideas—they can get cluttered and confusing easily.
  • Best used in the exploratory research phase, since they cannot provide true answers, only suggestions.

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If you want to know more about the research process , methodology , research bias , or statistics , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.


  • Sampling methods
  • Simple random sampling
  • Stratified sampling
  • Cluster sampling
  • Likert scales
  • Reproducibility


  • Null hypothesis
  • Statistical power
  • Probability distribution
  • Effect size
  • Poisson distribution

Research bias

  • Optimism bias
  • Cognitive bias
  • Implicit bias
  • Hawthorne effect
  • Anchoring bias
  • Explicit bias

Fishbone diagrams have a few different names that are used interchangeably, including herringbone diagram, cause-and-effect diagram, and Ishikawa diagram.

These are all ways to refer to the same thing– a problem-solving approach that uses a fish-shaped diagram to model possible root causes of problems and troubleshoot solutions.

Fishbone diagrams (also called herringbone diagrams, cause-and-effect diagrams, and Ishikawa diagrams) are most popular in fields of quality management. They are also commonly used in nursing and healthcare, or as a brainstorming technique for students.

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  • 647 W5D Fish Bone diagram

647 W5D Fish Bone diagram - Essay Example

647 W5D Fish Bone diagram

  • Subject: Business
  • Type: Essay
  • Level: Masters
  • Pages: 1 (250 words)
  • Downloads: 6
  • Author: morissettejo

Extract of sample "647 W5D Fish Bone diagram"

Fishbone Diagram Fishbone Diagram A fishbone diagram is a cause-and-effect diagram used to identify the actual causes ofany performance problem. It provides a structure for use in a group discussion on the potential source of the problem. This kind of diagrams are often used in assessing needs and to assist in communicating or illustrating relationships among several actual causes of a given performance problem. Therefore, they provide pragmatic tools for constructing a system of improving performance intervention in the often complex relationship between actual or potential causes (Kendrick, 2009).

Advantages of Using a Fishbone Diagram Fishbone diagrams allow for a thoughtful analysis that avoids overlooking any possible cause for a need (Reilly, Myers, Salvador & Trowbridge, 2014). The diagram employs a technique that is easy to implement and that creates an easily comprehensible visual representation with categories. One can concentrate on the group that is most likely to cause the problem. Location can address the need to a given situation. However, the fishbone diagram goes further to indicate the areas of weakness requiring rectification in time before causing sustained difficulties (Wang, 2013).

Example of a Fishbone Diagram In the example below the problem in question is the “effect.” It illustrates the Missed Free Throws. The causes are categorised as either service setting or manufacturing setting. In this example, the manufacturing setting groups come first because they have no variability. They include materials, measurement, people, methods and environment. Enough details that identify the exact root causes are then fixed under each major category. The detailed sub-categories are generated from the data collected from the data sheets and brainstorming from group members.

ReferencesKendrick, T. (2009). Identifying and managing project risk. New York: AMACON.Reilly, J., Myers, J., Salvador, D., & Trowbridge, R. (2014). Use of a novel, modified fishbone diagram to analyze diagnostic errors. Diagnosis, 1(2). doi:10.1515/dx-2013-0040Wang, G. (2013). Defect Identification and Quality Control of Steel Structure Installation Projects Based on Fishbone Diagram. AMM, 340, 104-108. doi:10.4028/www.scientific.net/amm.340.104

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essay discuss the fish bone diagram



The Fishbone Diagram Is A Cause & Effect Diagram?

The Fishbone Diagram (also called a Cause & Effect Diagram, or Ishikawa Diagram) is considered one of the 7 basic quality tools, and is often used as part of Lean-Kaizen workshops. A fishbone diagram that helps the assessing of the current state whilst assisting in getting to the root cause of a problem. This will help employees to identify solutions once a root cause is known. Fishbone diagram is also a good way to break a problem down in a structured way. “For every effect there is a root cause. Find and address the root cause rather than try to fix the effect, as there is no end to the latter.” A visual technique for identifying the potential causes of a problem in order to establish its root causes. • Created by Kaoru Ishikawa in the 1960’s …show more content…

By using this process you will build critical thinking and problem solving skills to help you broaden your understanding of identifying problems, determining root causes, brainstorming solutions, weighing alternatives and selecting timeframes for your solutions. Crafting implementation plans and thinking through your execution plan holistically will also be covered. Step 1: Clarify the Problem First you need to identify and clarify a problem. A problem is a gap between the current and ideal state, For example, the goal is 4 EOs per week per associate. Your team is performing at 2, so the gap is 2 EOs. In this case you would state the problem as “we are currently at 2 EOs per week per associate and we need to attain 4 EOs per week per associate.” Step 2: Determine Root Cause/Concern This step has multiple pieces to complete. Click on each item above, in order, and follow the directions given before moving on to Step 3. Step 2a - Now that you have identified the problem, let’s brainstorm to determine the root cause. Next, brainstorm potential solutions to your problem statement. Go broad and think about a wide array of issues that can affect the problem. As you come up with them, write them along the “ribs.” Add more lines if

In this essay, the author

  • Explains that the fishbone diagram is considered one of the 7 basic quality tools, and is often used as part of lean-kaizen workshops.
  • Explains the source(s) of a problem which, if eliminated, will ensure that the problem never reoccurs.
  • Explains the strategic problem solving 6 step process, which will help you broaden your understanding of identifying problems and determining root causes, brainstorming solutions, weighing alternatives and selecting timeframes for your solutions.
  • Explains that a gap between the current and ideal state can be identified and clarified by stating the problem as 2 eos per week per associate.
  • Explains that using the 3 horizons matrix, plot your solutions along three timeframes: 3 months (easy to implement and high impact), 6 months, and 1 year (high impact, difficult implementation).
  • Explains the 5 whys technique for brainstorming root cause in a fishbone diagram.
  • Describes the steps in step 2a and step 3 to complete.
  • Explains how to draw a reverse fishbone diagram starting with the problem statement on the left side of the page and the diagram out to the right.
  • Concludes that by using the 6 step problem solving process and further developing this skill you will enhance your ability to see problems, identify causes, develop solutions, and execute those solutions across your team.

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Critical Thinking

Critical thinking occurs when a person thinks about a subject or problem to where the improvement of the quality of ones own thinking using skillful analogies, then assessing and reconstructing them. A few important skills that is learned through critical thinking is learning how to discipline oneself in thinking, understanding the world as well as learning themselves. Critical thinking in the business world has many benefits in the process of decision making by employers as well as employees.

The Six Phases Of Critical Thinking By Timothy F Bednarz

In order to develop critical thinking, it is important for individuals to be clear as to the purpose of the task or topic at hand, and the main question that is at issue in regard to it. To accomplish this goal, it is essential to: strive to be clear, accurate, precise and relevant, practice thinking beneath the surface, be logical and fair-minded, apply critical thinking skills to all reading, writing, speaking and listening activities, and apply these skills to all aspects of work as well as life in general.

Lesson Plan

Develop critical thinking skills by analyzing, evaluating, and synthesizing various sides of an issue to form a conclusion

Critical Thinking In Homeland Security

applied to everyday duties and long-range planning. Critical thinking adds an extra edge to the

Critical Thinking Application

In conclusion, critical thinking helps and individual evaluate and analyze information to make a well-educated decision. The “University of Phoenix” nine-step decision-making model can help aid an individual throughout the critical thinking process. The three phases of the decision making model helps the individual define the problem, make his or her decision, and evaluate their decision. Following the steps of the decision-making model an individual can make a well-educated fact based decision.

Analysis Of Creativity, Critical Thinking, And Communication

In order to improve my critical thinking skill, I have kept analyzing at least one question I search from the internet every day since February 2016. I analyze the question in serval steps: to state the problem as clearly and precisely, to figure out the logic of the problem by identifying its elements, to carefully analyze and interpret the information I collect, to figure out and evaluate different options/actions, to choose the best option. This method helps me a lot in coursework. Now, I am reading the book “Creativity, Critical Thinking, and Communication” which is written by Melissa Goodwin and Catherine Sommervold. This book discusses different ways and strategies of 3Cs. It provides me different strategies in critical thinking and how to apply strategies to the real world. As I am reading this book, I apply some strategies when I solve questions, I feel it gets better and easier for me, but I still have a lot to learn and improve. One strategy I learn is to use mind mapping to help clarify and organize my thoughts/ideas. According to my research, some articles suggest me to read various types of book to become more knowledgeable which will be helpful in both critical thinking and problem solving. Now, I am still looking for books to read after I finish reading “Creativity, Critical Thinking, and Communication.” Additionally, I am going to talk to an instructor in the coming fall term to ask for guidance and suggestion in order to improve critical thinking

Kaoru Ishikawa's Influence in Quality Management

The fishbone diagram is probably one of the most influential contributions from Kaoru Ishikawa throughout the world, as it is used in many different work settings. When a company implements the fishbone diagram it allows them to see all possible causes of a result and they can hopefully find the root of process imperfections.

Importance Of Quality Improvement In Healthcare

Define the current situation - break down problem into component parts, identify major problem areas, develop a target improvement goal

Critical Thinking Reflection

Critical thinking is a significant and essential topic in recent education. The strategy of critical thinking skills helps identify areas in one's courses as the suitable place to highlight, expand and use some problems in exams that test students' critical thinking skills.

Critical Thinking: Strategies in Decision Making

Critical thinking is a process of applying various skills to analyze information. Critical thinking uses rationality to distinguish between emotion and fact. This paper will discuss the definition of critical thinking, and the skills it takes to think critically. It will also provide an example of critical thinking applied to my current working environment. Finally this paper will discuss the importance and benefits of critical thinking in the decision-making processes.

The Importance of Critical Thinking to the Decision Making Process

Paul, R., & Elder, L. (2006). Critical Thinking: Tools for Taking Charge of Your Learning and

A Critical Thinking Of Teaching

Critical thinking a strong and powerful way to use the brain, it is used by millions everyday some without knowledge that they are even using it. Critical thinking according to Diane Halpern as " The use of those cognitive skills or strategies that increase the probability of a desirable outcome...thinking that is purposeful, reasoned and goal directed - the kind of thinking involved in solving problems, formulating inferences, calculating likelihoods, and making decisions when the thinker is using skills that are thoughtful and effective for the particular context and type of thinking task. Critical thinking is sometimes called directed thinking because it focuses on a desired outcome." Halpern (1996).

Essay About Problem Solving Problems In Mathematics

Problem-solving help the students to create their own representation or illustration (De Corte, Vrerschaffel, De Win 1985; Hegarty, Mayer, Monk, 1995; Pape, 2003) based on how they interpret or understand the given problem (Pape, 2003; Van der Schoot, Bakker Arkema, Horsley, Van Lieshout, 2009). Problem-solving also tests their critical thinking skills on how they look for another strategy or ways to solve the problem easier. Problem-solving helps the problem solver to develop characteristics of a good problem solver which includes open-mindedness, optimistic, persistent, not afraid to commit mistakes and systematic person since he is following a certain step in solving the

The Importance Of Critical Thinking In The 21st Century

Critical thinking regularly involves the capability to interpret information and make knowledgeable decisions based on such information. Additionally, problem solving is frequently theorised as the use of critical thinking skills towards the effective solution of a specific problem or towards a specific end goal. Critical thinking is the disciplined art of ensuring that you use the best thinking you are capable of in any set of circumstances. The general goal of thinking is to figure out some situation” (Critical Thinking, 2001, p.1), solve some problem, answer some questions, or resolve some issue. It also is a process in which a person pursuits reliable and pertinent information about the world. Critical thinking is often described as reasonable, ruminative, trustworthy, and a well-practiced form of thinking that assists people with deciding what they should believe in and what actions should be taken. A practiced critical thinker will ask good questions, collects pertinent data, categorizes common characteristics, logically reasons with the new data and then he or she will come to a trustworthy and dependable conclusion. Critical thinking makes use of many processes and procedures. Some processes include but is not limited to asking questions, making judgments, and identifying

The Buy Grid Model

Step 2, defining the product-type needed: the organization needs to identify the type of product/service that can help solve the problem.

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