The Fishbone Diagram is also called a cause/effect diagram. This diagram is used to systematically list the different causes that can be attributed to a problem (effect). This visual depiction is a powerful decision making and analysis tool.
This type of diagram provides a foundation to breakdown a complex process into manageable factors. You can then generate ideas for data collection and/or solutions.
You use this diagram when you want to focus attention on one specific issue, determine resources, link resources with goals, or determine significant factors to analyze.
The process begins by drawing a horizontal arrow with the head pointing to the issue under study.
From this main axis (think of a fish spine), the branches that represent the primary factors branch out in a fashion resembling the bones of a fish.
The primary factors vary with the problem under study but will often include general categories as; machinery, materials, people, and methods.
The list below outlines the steps to constructing a fishbone diagram.
• Identify the major cause categories. You can summarize the causes under categories such as:
o Methods, Machines, Materials, People
o Places, Procedures, Employees, Policies
o Surroundings, Suppliers, Systems, Skills
• Brainstorm potential causes of the problems.
• Review each major category and circle the most likely causes on the diagram.
• Review the causes that are circled and ask “Why is this a cause?” Asking why helps you get to the root of the problem.
Using the fishbone diagram allows you to break down complex issues into manageable components.