A Fishbone Diagram is named for its looks because it resembles the bones of a fish drawn on paper. Its less creative names are Cause-and-Effect Diagram and Ishikawa Diagram. It's popularly known to help with root cause analysis. But, we can also use it to help with goals and to evaluate a potential solution.
Why is it a Supertool? Just creating its headings helps us to better define our question. Writing it out as a graphical organizer helps organize jumbled thoughts. And, when paired with a 5W2H approach and the 5-whys, it can help us dig to the root causes.
I've included some abbreviated examples of fishbone diagrams; click the thumbnail for a larger version (notice that my root causes follow the 5-whys). And, listen to the podcast (or read the transcript) to learn more about Fishbones and their construction and uses.
The 5W2H approach is asking ourselves this: who, what, when, where, why, how, and how much?
The 5-whys approach is asking ourselves why repeatedly until we get to the root cause: something that we can take action against and, when addressed, stops a chain of events from occurring.
Once you've had a chance to listen, I want to hear from you. Share your answers to this question in the comments section.
What fishbone headings have you used that are different from the examples I gave?
I used Lucidchart to create the examples shown. My tip for using this supertool: don't drag down the process by trying to get it all lined-up pretty in software; it will stop of the flow of thoughts before you even begin. Start it with your team on paper, a virtual sketchpad, or even using sticky-notes (the real and virtual kind). You can draw it up for records later.
Presentation Barsalou, Matthew. “Human Factors & Root Cause Analysis.” World Conference on Quality & Improvement, ASQ, 25 May 2021.
Book Tague, Nancy R. The Quality Toolbox ASQ, 2005.
For an excerpt of Ms. Tague's Book about the fishbone diagram, see asq.org/quality-resources/fishbone