Browse Definitions :
Definition

fishbone diagram (Ishikawa cause and effect)

A fishbone diagram is a visualization tool for categorizing the potential causes of a problem. This tool is used in order to identify a problem’s root causes. Typically used for root cause analysis, a fishbone diagram combines the practice of brainstorming with a type of mind map template. It should be efficient as a test case technique to determine cause and effect.

A fishbone diagram is useful in product development and troubleshooting processes, typically used to focus a conversation around a problem. After the group has brainstormed all the possible causes for a problem, the facilitator helps the group to rate the potential causes according to their level of importance and diagram a hierarchy. The name comes from the diagram's design, which looks much like a skeleton of a fish. Fishbone diagrams are typically worked right to left, with each large "bone" of the fish branching out to include smaller bones, each containing more detail.

Dr. Kaoru Ishikawa, a Japanese quality control expert, is credited with inventing the fishbone diagram to help employees avoid solutions that merely address the symptoms of a much larger problem. Fishbone diagrams are considered one of seven basic quality tools and are used in the "analyze" phase of Six Sigma's DMAIC (define, measure, analyze, improve, control) approach to problem-solving.

Fishbone diagrams are also called a cause and effect diagram, or Ishikawa diagram.

How to create a fishbone diagram

Fishbone diagrams are typically made during a team meeting and drawn on a flipchart or whiteboard. Once a problem that needs to be studied further is identified, teams can take the following steps to create the diagram:

  1. The head of the fish is created by listing the problem in a statement format and drawing a box around it. A horizontal arrow is then drawn across the page with an arrow pointing to the head. This acts as the backbone of the fish.
  2. Then at least four overarching "causes" are identified that might contribute to the problem. Some generic categories to start with may include methods, skills, equipment, people, materials, environment or measurements. These causes are then drawn to branch off from the spine with arrows, making the first bones of the fish.
  3. For each overarching cause, team members should brainstorm any supporting information that may contribute to it. This typically involves some sort of questioning methods, such as the 5 Why's or the 4P's (Policies, Procedures, People and Plant) to keep the conversation focused. These contributing factors are written down to branch off their corresponding cause.
  4. This process of breaking down each cause is continued until the root causes of the problem have been identified. The team then analyzes the diagram until an outcome and next steps are agreed upon.

Example of a fishbone diagram

The following graphic is an example of a fishbone diagram with the problem "Website went down." Two of the overarching causes have been identified as "Unable to connect to server" and "DNS lookup problem," with further contributing factors branching off.

Example of a fishbone diagram
Example of a fishbone diagram

When to use a fishbone diagram

A few reasons a team might want to consider using a fishbone diagram are:

  • To identify the possible causes of a problem.
  • To help develop a product that addresses issues within current market offerings.
  • To reveal bottlenecks or areas of weakness in a business process.
  • To avoid reoccurring issues or employee burnout.
  • To ensure that any corrective actions put into place will resolve the issue.
This was last updated in December 2020

Continue Reading About fishbone diagram (Ishikawa cause and effect)

SearchCompliance
  • OPSEC (operations security)

    OPSEC (operations security) is a security and risk management process and strategy that classifies information, then determines ...

  • smart contract

    A smart contract is a decentralized application that executes business logic in response to events.

  • compliance risk

    Compliance risk is an organization's potential exposure to legal penalties, financial forfeiture and material loss, resulting ...

SearchSecurity
  • buffer overflow

    A buffer overflow occurs when a program or process attempts to write more data to a fixed-length block of memory, or buffer, than...

  • biometric verification

    Biometric verification is any means by which a person can be uniquely identified by evaluating one or more distinguishing ...

  • password

    A password is a string of characters used to verify the identity of a user during the authentication process.

SearchHealthIT
SearchDisasterRecovery
  • What is risk mitigation?

    Risk mitigation is a strategy to prepare for and lessen the effects of threats faced by a business.

  • change control

    Change control is a systematic approach to managing all changes made to a product or system.

  • disaster recovery (DR)

    Disaster recovery (DR) is an organization's ability to respond to and recover from an event that affects business operations.

SearchStorage
  • What is RAID 6?

    RAID 6, also known as double-parity RAID, uses two parity stripes on each disk. It allows for two disk failures within the RAID ...

  • VRAM (video RAM)

    VRAM (video RAM) refers to any type of random access memory (RAM) specifically used to store image data for a computer display.

  • PCIe SSD (PCIe solid-state drive)

    A PCIe SSD (PCIe solid-state drive) is a high-speed expansion card that attaches a computer to its peripherals.

Close