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A fishbone diagram is a visual representation of the contributing factors that contribute to a single problem. It is also known as an Ishikawa diagram, a cause-and-effect diagram, or an effect-and-cause diagram.

What is a Fishbone Diagram?

Fishbone diagrams are a tool that helps you organize the causes of a problem into categories. This can help you focus your efforts on the most important areas, and allows you to see what other problems might be caused by this issue.

It’s a great way to get the pieces of an idea out on the table, and then see what the next steps might be. A typical fishbone diagram has three columns: “categories”, “limitations” and “applications”. 

Categories are what you think might be causing the problem, limitations are any obstacles that might prevent you from solving it, and applications are all of the possible solutions that could help solve it.

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When you create a fishbone diagram, you start with the main cause of your problem in the middle of the page. You then draw lines out from this central “fishbone” to create categories for your causes.

These categories should be as specific as possible. for example, instead of just writing down “factors,” write down “factors related to location,” or “factors related to product quality.”

Next, add subcategories under each main category. For example, if your main category is “factors related to location,” then you might have subcategories such as “distance from suppliers” or “distance from customers.”

Finally, list factors under each subcategory that would cause that factor to have an effect on your results. Fishbone diagrams are especially useful when you’re trying to identify the root causes of an issue or problem because they help you break down your thinking into manageable chunks and give you an easy way to organize those chunks into groups so everyone can see them clearly at once."ishikawa-fishbone-diagram"

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What are the 6 Categories of Fishbone Diagrams?

The six categories are Procedures, Policies, Place, Product, People, and Processes.

1) Procedures are the steps needed to accomplish something. They could be written down or unspoken. The key is that they are needed for an action to occur.

2) Policies define what can and cannot be done in a given situation. They may be written down or just understood by everyone involved in an organization. Policies can also relate to procedures, for example, if you have a policy about how often someone should clean their desk, then this would also be considered part of your procedure for cleaning desks (or at least part of it).

3) Place is where things happen. This could be an office building or even just part of your house (your bedroom). It is important here that you think about not just where but how those places were designed and whether or not they support what needs to be done there (for example: Are there enough windows? Is there enough space?).

4) Product refers to anything produced by your organization that can be anything from physical goods like cars or clothes or food; to something digital like webpages

Product causes include problems with the actual product itself or its packaging. For example, if you’re selling food items and customers have been complaining about them tasting stale or spoiled, the problem may stem from your manufacturing process or the quality of your ingredients.

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5) People causes refer to any issues caused by staff members. This could include employee turnover or customer service representatives not being trained properly.

6) Processes include any problems that occur within your company’s workflow. This can include inefficient workflows as well as any issues related to software/hardware or other tools used by employees during their jobs every day (such as computers).

Applications of Fishbone Diagram

Fishbone diagrams are used in a variety of disciplines to help identify the causes of problems and subsequently find solutions. 

The main applications are:

  1. Business management – when trying to understand why a product or service is not selling well, the fishbone diagram can be used to break down all the possible causes. This can help identify ways to improve sales. 
  2. Product development – when developing a new product or service, it’s important to consider all possible uses for that product. A fishbone diagram can help you think through every possible use case and how you would deliver on each one. 
  3. Quality improvement programs – these programs aim to reduce defects in products or services by identifying their root causes and implementing changes. Fishbone diagrams are an effective way to identify these root causes and implement changes accordingly.

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How to Use Fishbone Diagrams

Fishbone diagrams are a visual tool that can help you organize your thinking and brainstorm solutions, which is why they’re so effective. They’re especially useful when you’re working with a team because they provide a way for everyone to contribute ideas.

Here’s how to use them:

1. Draw a large circle on a piece of paper and divide it into sections, or “bones.” The number of bones will depend on how many categories your project has to include.

2. Think about what factors could be causing the problem you’re trying to solve and write each one down in one of the bones.

3. Ask yourself what would happen if each factor were controlled? What would happen if none of the factors were controlled? Write down those answers in each bone as well.

4. Draw lines connecting all related ideas together so that the diagram looks like a fish skeleton (hence the name ‘fishbone diagram’). This will help you see how each factor affects another and make it easier to find solutions by focusing on just one factor at a time instead of trying to solve everything at once!

Benefits of Fishbone Diagram

The Ishikawa diagram is a visual tool that can be used to analyze the cause of a problem or issue. The diagram has six categories and each category has four sub-categories, which are represented by arrows pointing to the center of the diagram.

The benefits of using this diagram are many:

  • It’s a simple, easy-to-read graphical way to display all possible causes of a particular problem.
  • It captures relationships between potential causes and shows them in the chart. 
  • It’s a great tool for solving complex problems where many factors have to be taken into consideration. 
  • It stimulates an in-depth analysis and evaluation because it allows you to explore possible causes in detail

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Limitations of Fishbone Diagram

  1. It is a qualitative analysis technique, it does not provide quantitative information. 
  2. It requires the selection of a root cause category to conduct analysis. 
  3. It is difficult to read and interpret.

How Formplus can Augment the Use Cases of Fishbone Diagrams

Fishbone diagrams are a great way to organize information and make it easy for everyone on your team to understand their role in a process. But fishbone diagrams don’t have to be static, they can be used as a jumping-off point for conversations about the best ways to improve your processes.

Formplus makes it easy for you and your team members to collect feedback, and evaluate opinions, so you can all get on the same page about how things should be done. You can also use Formplus to share your fishbone diagram with other teams, so they can contribute too.

For example, if you have a product that’s not working properly, you could create a field to capture what exactly is wrong with it. Then later on when you’re using Formplus to analyze data from your fishbone diagrams, you’ll be able to see which products are most frequently having issues.

It’s also very easy to create one on Formplus


Fishbone diagrams are a great way to break down the different parts of a problem and help you see how it fits into the larger picture. But sometimes, you need to get more specific about what’s going on in each part of your fishbone diagram.

  • busayo.longe
  • on 6 min read


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