This is a simple yet powerful method of visually recording possible causes and relating effect. These help detailed investigation of processes responsible for quality problems.They provide a convenient way of revealing relationships between causes and can help in defining the problem more closely.

The diagram is created in three stages:


1. Establish what the problem or effect is, start the diagram by putting this in the box.

2. Identify the major causes. The typical headings are Material, Method, Manpower, and, Machinery. Put these in boxes on branches of the fishbone.

3. Brainstorm for sub divisions of the major causes. 


Use large diagrams, as others cannot participate in the process if they cannot see it clearly.  If the diagram becomes overloaded with causes, then the problem is not defined clearly and should be reviewed again. Focus discussion by circling the most likely causes and draw lines to indicate the relationships between them.


cause and effect diagram


Here is an example to try to analyse and find the cause of a simple problem like arriving to work on time. Notice how we put the "problem" in a box on the Effect side (Right side), then we list all categories and all factors we can think of in the Cause side (Left side) and examin each cause carefully. Its a fact that if you analyse the problem visually using diagrams and you have all possible causes right there infornt of you, the chances are you wiill be able to find out the real cause much easier than just keeping it all in your head.


fishbone diagram

banking fish bone diagram


Here is another example for a more complex problem where a bank's senior staff is loosing customers and the senior staff are trying to figure out why

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