Also called: cause-and-effect diagram, Ishikawa diagram
Variations: cause enumeration diagram, process fishbone, time-delay fishbone, CEDAC (cause-and-effect diagram with the addition of cards), desired-result fishbone, reverse fishbone diagram
This cause analysis tool is considered one of the seven basic quality tools. The fishbone diagram identifies many possible causes for an effect or problem. It can be used to structure a brainstorming session. It immediately sorts ideas into useful categories.
- When to use a fishbone diagram
- Fishbone diagram procedure
- Fishbone diagram example
- Create a fishbone diagram
- Fishbone diagram resources
- When identifying possible causes for a problem
- When a team’s thinking tends to fall into ruts
Fishbone Diagram Example
Materials needed: marking pens and flipchart or whiteboard.
- Agree on a problem statement (effect). Write it at the center right of the flipchart or whiteboard. Draw a box around it and draw a horizontal arrow running to it.
- Brainstorm the major categories of causes of the problem. If this is difficult use generic headings:
- Machines (equipment)
- People (manpower)
This fishbone diagram was drawn by a manufacturing team to try to understand the source of periodic iron contamination. The team used the six generic headings to prompt ideas. Layers of branches show thorough thinking about the causes of the problem.
Fishbone Diagram Example
For example, under the heading "Machines," the idea "materials of construction" shows four kinds of equipment and then several specific machine numbers.
Note that some ideas appear in two different places. "Calibration" shows up under "Methods" as a factor in the analytical procedure, and also under "Measurement" as a cause of lab error. "Iron tools" can be considered a "Methods" problem when taking samples or a "Manpower" problem with maintenance personnel.
Start using the fishbone diagram template and analyze process dispersion with this simple, visual tool. The resulting diagram illustrates the main causes and subcauses leading to an effect (symptom).
Quality Nugget: Creating Ishikawa (Fishbone) Diagrams With R (Software Quality Professional) A fishbone diagram connects causal links in major categories with an outcome, or effect. This article explains how to make one with the Six Sigma package in R.
Fish(bone) Stories (Quality Progress) The method behind the fishbone diagram is older than many of its users. The authors explore how digitizing one of the seven basic quality tools—the fishbone diagram—using mind mapping can significantly improve the tool.
Excerpted from The Quality Toolbox, Second Edition, ASQ Quality Press.