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Fish Bone

Fish Bone Diagram aso called: Cause-and-Effect Diagram or Ishikawa Diagram




The Cause and Effect diagram identifies many possible causes for an effect or a problem. Your team can used this to structure a brainstorming session because it immediately sorts ideas into key categories.

When to Use

• When your  figuring out the possible factors for a problem.

• When your team’s thinking hits a roadblock.



1- Agree on the problem (effect). Write it at the center right (Fish Head) of the flipchart or whiteboard. Draw a box around it and draw a horizontal arrow running to it.

2- Brainstorm the possible major categories of causes of the problem (5M and 1E).

• Methods

• Machines (equipment)

• Manpower (People)

• Materials

• Measurement

• Environment

3- Write the categories of causes as branches from the main arrow.

4- Brainstorm all the possible factors for each of the major categories. Ask: “Why does this happen?” As each element is given, write it as a branch from the appropriate category (5M ). Causes can be written in several places if they relate to several categories.

5- Again ask “why does this happen?” about each branch from step 4. Write sub-causes branching off the causes. Continue to ask “Why?” and generate deeper levels of causes. Layers of branches indicate relationships.

6 After completion, have the team review the diagram. Identify elements that need to be investigated. Circle those items and assign investigation action items to the team.


A Fish Bone is one of many Total Quality Management tools.