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The Ishikawa Diagram
By SmartDraw.com

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

About SmartDraw.com

SmartDraw.com is the creator of SmartDraw, the world’s most popular business graphics software and the first program that makes it possible for ordinary computer users to create presentation-quality business graphics in minutes. Each year more than two million people install and use SmartDraw and the company counts more than half of the members of the Fortune 500 as loyal customers.

Founded in 1994, SmartDraw.com is privately-held and based in San Diego, CA. In addition to SmartDraw 2008 for general business and home use, the company also offers SmartDraw Healthcare and SmartDraw Legal editions which include graphics and applications unique to their respective fields. For more information on the company or to download a free trial of SmartDraw, please visit www.smartdraw.com.

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