Fishbone diagram

How to map root-causes with Ishikawa’s fishbone diagrams

The PLAYBOOK

The ‘Fishbone Diagram’ is one of 30 techniques included in our PLAYBOOK, the free toolkit for creative thinkers.

WHAT IS A FISHBONE DIAGRAM?

Devised in the 1960s by Kaoru Ishikawa, it helps uncover and illustrate the root-causes, bottlenecks, or failure points in a process. Also called a cause and effect diagram or Ishikawa diagram, it usually ends up looking like a fishbone.

Map root-causes

HOW TO USE IT?

The fishbone diagram is a visual tool to help you think about and categorise potential causes of a problem in order to identify its underlying root causes.

 

You can download the worksheet below.

Fishbone diagram bubbles
Fishbone diagram - bubbles
Fishbone diagram lines
Fishbone diagram - lines

Start with the head

On the right-hand side of the page, draw a triangle or circle, and describe an issue or problem within it.

Layout the backbone

Draw a horizontal line across from the issue on the right to the left-hand side of the page.

Map themes and causes

Identify the primary symptoms or themes of the problem and map them along the backbone. For each of these, explore all the potential underlying causes and any contributing factors.

Discuss and reflect

Review the completed diagram for useful insights, revelations and possible hints at how to address the issue.

ENDS

DOWNLOAD WORKSHEETS

The worksheet is included in our free PLAYBOOK, a collection of 30 of our favourite tools and techniques. Download them all now in the PLAYBOOK.

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