Fishbone Diagram Template
Visualize the potential causes of a problem, to solve it collaboratively using a Fishbone Ishikawa Diagram.
About the Fishbone Diagram Template
The fishbone diagram (also called an Ishikawa diagram or “cause and effect” diagram) can be used to explore the potential causes of a particular issue, enabling your team to find a solution more effectively.
After brainstorming ideas, you can use the fishbone diagram template to sort these into groupings, honing in on the root cause of the problem. A fishbone diagram is particularly useful when you must rely on experience and ideas rather than quantitative data.
What is a fishbone diagram?
The fishbone diagram (also known as the Ishikawa diagram) is a root cause analysis tool used to identify possible causes of problems or inefficiencies in a process.
The diagram was first created by Kaoru Ishikawa, an engineer and professor at the University of Tokyo. Ishikawa based his diagram on the assumption that every problem is a result of an error or inefficiency. Ishikawa believed that it's better to identify the root cause of a problem and fix it, rather than find a patchwork solution.
Doing so would avoid the recurrence of these problems, which would improve workflow efficiency. Ishikawa initially used the diagram in an industrial setting, but over time its use has spread to many more industries.
The fishbone diagram is said to look like a the skeleton of a fish and consists of three main elements that were named with this in mind:
Fish head: This is the part of the diagram where you write the main problem identified. It is the basis for completing the rest of the fishbone diagram template.
Spine: Like all fish, the Fishbone diagram has a spine that branches out and provides support. On the one end is the head while leading away are all the bones branching off. Each of these represents a higher-level category that needs to be considered.
Bones: The bones of the diagram branch out from the spine; this is where the various potential causes can be listed. You can add as many as you are able to identify.
Teams can use Ishikawa's diagram template to visualize all possible causes of a problem and zero in on the underlying cause. In doing so, they are able to anticipate the consequences with effective analysis.
When to use a fishbone diagram template
A fishbone diagram template can be used for any situation where you need to understand all of the contributing factors to a problem. The template can help you break down the problem, and its possible causes, in a hierarchical manner, and can be used to:
Brainstorm the causes of the problem (root cause analysis)
Analyze a problem statement
Analyze a new design
Assess ways to improve an existing process
Ensure quality improvement
It is important to take the time to understand the whole system rather than rush through it. The fishbone diagram template should ideally be worked through as a team. It requires a good understanding of the processes involved as well as considerable brainstorming and analysis so having many perspectives can be an asset.
The 6Ms and the fishbone diagram
One of the most widely used approaches for the fishbone diagram is the 6Ms of Production. This method covers six key elements that should be assessed in your analysis. How you consider these factors will be specific to your industry and the situation.
Manpower: Everything related to the labor of people should be considered here. This is rarely found to be a cause and you find labor inefficiencies more attributable to the other "M"s.
Methods: At this point, you will need to consider all the steps in the production or delivery processes. You should evaluate how everything is currently done. Perhaps there are too many steps involved or stages that don't create any real value in the process.
Machinery: You will need to consider the infrastructure present throughout the process. This will differ depending on your field. Perhaps you will need to assess the software or hardware being used, or you'll need to look at the machinery and tools used in production.
Mother nature (the environment): This covers the environmental factors that you will need to analyze. These are often unpredictable and uncontrollable although you may be able to mitigate them to an extent.
Materials: As its name suggests, this has everything to do with the raw materials, inputs, or consumables used in the production or delivery. It may be that these are poorly managed or improperly stored. You will need to consider what is relevant to your specific scenario.
Measurement: This relates to any stage where you will need to take measurements, whether manually or through automated means. You will need to determine if the current measures are reliable so that you can ensure accuracy and consistency.
In each "M", it is helpful to ask a series of questions when completing your fishbone diagram. These will differ depending on the industry and the process you are considering.
How to create a Fishbone Diagram in 4 steps
Creating a fishbone diagram in Miro is easy! Simply select our fishbone diagram template and get started straight away. Using Miro’s virtual collaboration platform, you can work through your analysis with your team, in real-time or asynchronously.
Follow these steps to complete the fishbone diagram template:
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 "head" of your fishbone diagram. Make sure your team agrees on how the problem is defined before you dive into exploring causes.
2. Identify main root causes
What are the main root causes of your problem? For example, if you’re trying to diagnose a problem with a 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. The 6Ms of Production are often used to ensure nothing is missed. Try to keep the number of main root causes low.
3. List out the individual causes
Once you have your main root causes, it’s time to brainstorm and list out all of the individual causes for each. Vote to elect a few of them. 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 together with 5 Whys framework to systematically dig deeper and uncover new potential causes.
4. Agree on next steps and outcome
Write down actions and responsibilities and what are the following steps to mitigate your problem. It helps to establish deadlines and assign tasks to your team members. This template can work as a cause and effect diagram that sheds light on a problem and brings insights.
Tip: If you're solving a particularly complicated problem or need a more customizable space to explore a root-cause analysis, jump into the fishbone diagram maker to build your own from scratch.
The benefits of using a fishbone diagram
Focus on a cause rather than symptoms
Using a fishbone diagram template 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.
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.
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.
Focus everyone on 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.
Fishbone diagram example
When you add the fishbone diagram template to any Miro board, you can see our pre-filled template as an example. In this example, the problem that was considered is: “Why do people cancel subscriptions to our platform?” As the defined problem, this was placed in the “Head” of the Fishbone Diagram on the far left.
Starting from this point, the main causes of this problem needed to be determined. These were written in the labels of the fishbone diagram template. In this case, the causes that were identified include:
Price too high
System not stable
Not enough staff
Lack of insights
Lack of strategy
In the bones of the fishbone diagram, the root causes of these main problems are listed. This is crucial to do thoroughly when conducting a fishbone diagram analysis. In the example we're discussing, under the main root cause "Prices too high", these root causes included: "Competitors offer a lower price" and "People are not in need of a higher tier". Each main cause identified has a number of root causes identified.
This is just one example of how a fishbone diagram may be used. The type of information you'll assess will differ depending on your field and the specific problem you've identified. Your specific scenario may be better analyzed using the 5 Whys or the 6Ms of production as a more structured approach for the root cause analysis.
Once everything has been brainstormed and the fishbone diagram is complete, a voting session can be held to identify what each team member believes is the root cause. After discussion and debate, the underlying causes should be much clearer.
How do you make a fishbone diagram?
Start by defining the problem statement and placing it on the right-hand side of the fishbone 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 root of a problem. It’s used for problem-solving and preemptively diagnosing issues before they are manifested to mitigate damage.
Where can I draw a fishbone diagram?
You can either use our fishbone diagram template or draw your fishbone diagram on Miro’s whiteboard, an infinite canvas. If you want inspiration for your fishbone diagram, you can also access more templates in Miroverse.
Get started with this template right now.
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