The best Fishbone Diagram? – easy manual

Would you like to understand one of the most powerfull tools for brainstorming? How it works? What to do prior fishbone, during analysis and after it? This article will help you with ansering not just these qustions.

This article covers:

  • Fishbone diagram is also known as
  • Fishbone diagram – how to do it?
  • Steps for successful fishbone usage
  • What to do after fishbone analysis
  • Fishbone diagram example
  • Download fishbone analysis template
There are 3 different names of this tool.

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Fishbone diagram is also know as:

Fish bone diagram, cause effect diagram, or Ishikawa diagram.

There are 3 names of one simple tool. Simple, but very powerful.

Fish bone diagram is a scheme, that by its structure reminds a fish, and its bones (what a surprise :D). There is an addressed problem written into the fish head.

Problem is an effect of current mal functioning investigated process. That is why is called Cause-Effect diagram.

Japanese professor Kaoru Ishikawa was an inventor of this tool, that is why this tool is named after him.

How does DMADV process looks like? +example – read here

There are six elements of the fish body: Man, Method, Machine, Material, Environment and Measurement.

These elements can help describing areas that are causing, or influencing malfunctioning effect.

Fish bone diagram strongly support brainstorming, and discussions about a problem, our effect. Usually is used during project analysis phase, but not limited for that.

Check out DMAIC office example video

How to create Run chart vs. Control chart? (+template) -read here

Fishbone diagram – how to do it?

Project team came to the point, that they understood, and are unified on the project goal and scope. Team have described current mal functioning process in the measure project phase. Now they are a potential root cause evaluation.

Project team starts using fishbone

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Follow these steps for successful tool usage.

  • Assemble team. 4 to 8 people will be good team. To identify problem root cause it is crucial to have right team members. Start with members you know, they are important. Ask them if they think to have somebody else in the team.
  • Make sure everyone understands problem prior brainstorming. Write your problem into effect part of fishbone.
  • Brainstorm problem potential reasons. Challenge team members to write at least 3 reasons that problem occurs on each fishbone section.
  • Give team 5 to 10 minutes to write their ideas on stickers.
  • Collect ideas one by one. Read them loud. Collect similar ideas together.
  • Attach ideas to the fishbone element. It is not so important where idea is attached on fishbone. But to have different point of views ideas is very important.
  • Discuss each idea in more details. Let team members to explain, why each reason is influencing the problem.
  • Identify priorities and the largest cause out of those ideas. The most frequent idea can be the one with larger influence.
  • Rewrite all ideas into the electronic table. Al potential causes are identified. First meeting is over.
Steps during fishbone analysis

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Steps after Fishbone brainstorming

  • Call another session with the same team.
  • Do the 5 why analysis or why because analysis on each cause. That will bring you to the real root cause of your problem.
  • Start this next step with top identified priorities.
  • Identify counter measurements to each problem cause.
  • Implement counter measures.
  • Evaluate it after some time period. After Like 2 weeks or one month.
What to do after fishbome analysis?

What DMAIC tool list to follow during projects? (+template)- read here

Download DMAIC tools list, I suggest allways to follow.

Download working DMAIC tool list for your usage

Fishbone diagram example

There is a problem with vibrations on very precisely grinded surface. But this vibration does not occur every time part is grinded. It is causing a lot of troubles and reworks. There are also customer complaints. That is not a good affect of this process, isn´t it?

First what team did, is developed robust method to identify vibrations. To stop customer complaints.

Then team was assembled to find problem root cause. Production supervisor, Process engineer, maintenance guy, technologist, and machinist met next to grinding machine. They brainstormed and discussed potential causes of vibration problem. Green belt lead this activity and made remarks on clipboard.

And this is result of the brainstorming. There are 10 potential root causes. Team described, what would be reaction on each cause. Task owners also had their priorities to work on. So, they knew what to focus on.

It took some time, to collect data or check different points. Finally, maintenance discovered defected pressure valve in hydraulic system. After exchange, problem disappeared. There was regular hydraulic system check set up on TPM.

Result of fishbone analysis from our example

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Download fishbone template

Here is how fishbone template for download looks like:

Fishbone template

There is task list template I use in my projects all the time included. It looks like this:

Addressing cause template is included

There is 5 whys analysis template included, On top of that:

5 whys template is included

You can download fishbone analysis, Task list and 5 whys template on the link below:

I do videos, blog posts, and all templates in my free time. I will appreciate if you can donate me a cup of cofee, for more energy in my creation. (1 dollar counts, too 😉 Click on this link: I would like to support Erik in his effort

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Do not hesitate to post your comments, questions, or themes you are interested in.

Yours sincerely Erik

Fishbone explaining video

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