Fishbone DiagramFishbone Diagram

Fishbone Diagram Template

Visualize the potential causes of a problem, to solve it collaboratively.

About the Fishbone Diagram template

What is a Fishbone Diagram?

A Fishbone Diagram is also known as a “cause and effect diagram” or an Ishikawa Diagram (named after its inventor, Japanese quality control expert Kaoru Ishikawa). Teams use a Fishbone Diagram to visualize all of the possible causes of a problem, zero in on the underlying cause, and anticipate the consequences with an effect analysis.

4 benefits of a Fishbone Diagram

1. Focus on a cause, rather than symptoms

Using a Fishbone Diagram helps teams truly get to the heart of why something is occurring, instead of simply describing the situation and mistaking secondary causes for the root cause. 

2. See all potential causes at a glance

A Fishbone Diagram displays multiple causes, ordered logically, in a visual manner. All stakeholders can explore and understand how they fit together holistically. 

3. Create a prompt for brainstorming

Many teams use a Fishbone Diagram as a jumping-off point for a structured brainstorming exercise, to generate a large number of potential ideas about what the root cause could be. 

4. Focus everyone around the root cause

Instead of identifying the causes of a problem independently, a Fishbone Diagram enables the team to focus on working together, analyzing, and prioritizing different possibilities until they land on the root cause. 

How to create a fishbone diagram in 3 steps

1. Define the problem statement

Create a statement that explains exactly what the problem is, and how and when it occurs. This should be added to the right side of your diagram, as the fish’s “head.” Make sure your team agrees on how the problem is being defined before you dive into exploring causes. 

2. Identify categories of causes

What broad categories or areas do potential causes fall into? For example, if you’re trying to diagnose a problem with your software product, you might want to look at users, software, or marketing. For a physical product, you might include people, methods, materials, machines, or the environment. Try to keep the number of categories below ten. 

3. List out the causes

Once you have your categories, it’s time to list out all of the individual causes for each bucket. These become the “bones” of the fish, which you can use as a basis for diagnosing the root cause of your problem. Some groups use the Fishbone Diagram in conjunction with 5 Whys to systematically dig deeper and uncover new potential causes. 

FAQs about fishbone diagram template

How do you make a fishbone diagram?

Start by defining the problem statement and placing it on the right hand side of the diagram. Then, identify potential causes of the problem, and categorize these causes. Finally, list out each cause as the “bones” of the fish.

How is a fishbone diagram used?

A fishbone diagram is a tool for root cause analysis that is used to brainstorm the causes of a problem. It’s used for problem-solving and preemptively diagnosing issues before they are manifested in a way that causes damage.

Fishbone Diagram Template

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