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The Ishikawa Diagram

Originally developed by Kaoru Ishikawa to visualize the causes of a specific event, it has become know by several names: Cause and Effect, Fishbone, or Ishikawa diagram. It is one of the 7 basic Quality control tools, and has become commonly used to determine components needed for a desired outcome.

Typical Uses

Anytime you would like to examine why something happened or might happen a cause and effect diagram is very helpful. It can also be helpful to show relationships between contributing factors.

Best Practices

  • Identify the process or event. Define the process to be examined.
  • Draw the backbone. Once you identify the process, draw a straight line on your page, and on the right side, draw a rectangle at the end. Write a brief description of the process in the rectangle.
  • Add a spine. Draw a line that starts on the backbone and extend it out, away from the backbone at an angle. Think about a fish skeleton, because your diagram will look much like that when you are done. Either perpendicular or parallel to the spine, write a description of a cause or effect. Continue to add spines and a cause or effect until you have documented all the factors you want to diagram.
  • Analyze. Once your diagram is done, all that is left to do is analyze and make improvements.

Example Ishikawa Diagram

Ishikawa Diagram

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