Fishbone Diagrams

The Fishbone Diagram (also called Ishikawa Diagram, Cause and Effect Diagram) got its name from its similarity of its shape to that of a fish skeleton. The Ishikawa Diagram relates to the seven basic tools of measurement, evaluation, control, and improvement of a production processes. Fishbone Diagrams are used to study, to display graphically, and analyze multiplicity of causes that influence the occurrence of a problem being solved and their impact.

The Fishbone Ishikawa Diagram finds its application in various fields of industry and manufacturing. These diagrams are especially popular in strategic planning to identify key success factors. In quality management systems these diagrams are used to highlight the causes that have led to a decline in quality of services or product, as well to improve the competitiveness of services and products.

The methods used to construct Ishikawa diagrams are easy to apply to real practical situations faced by business analysts in a study of problem situations arising in company activities. The illustration starts with a formulation and then the definition of a problem. From this information is built a fish spine - a horizontal line with fish bones that are the groups of factors which impact the occurrence of the problem. The identifying of causes is a very popular brainstorming activity.

The Fishbone Diagrams solution extends ConceptDraw PRO v10 software with the ability to easily draw the Fishbone Diagrams (Ishikawa Diagrams) to clearly see the cause and effect analysis and also problem solving. The vector graphic diagrams produced using this solution can be used in whitepapers, presentations, datasheets, posters, and published technical material.

There is 1 library containing 13 vector objects in the Fishbone Diagrams solution.

Design Elements — Fishbone Diagrams

Design Elements — Fishbone Diagrams


The samples on this page were created using ConceptDraw PRO and the Fishbone Diagram solution. These samples demonstrate some of the solution's capabilities and the results that can be generated with the Fishbone Diagram Solution.

All source documents are vector graphic documents. They are available for reviewing, modifying, and converting to a variety of available formats (PDF file, PowerPoint Presentation, image, or MS Visio XML) from the ConceptDraw Solution Park.

Example 1: Fishbone Diagram — Causes of Low-Quality Output

This diagram was created in ConceptDraw PRO using the Fishbone Diagrams Library from the Fishbone Diagram Solution. An experienced user spent 30 minutes creating this sample.

This sample diagram using the Fishbone Diagrams Solution shows the most common causes and effects that occur when assembling a cause-and-effect analysis session.

Example 2: Fishbone Diagram — Educational Template

This diagram was created in ConceptDraw PRO using the Fishbone Diagrams Library from the Fishbone Diagrams Solution. An experienced user spent 30 minutes creating this template.

This template diagram is created using the Fishbone Diagrams Solution. It contains a typical structure you can fill-in to get started with a Fishbone Diagram. There are callout tips on the template so you can get quickly started.

Example 3: Fishbone Diagram — Factors Reducing Competitiveness

This diagram was created in ConceptDraw PRO using the Fishbone Diagrams Library from the Fishbone Diagrams Solution. An experienced user spent 20 minutes creating this sample.

This sample diagram from the Fishbone Diagrams Solution visualizes the most frequent causes and effects that can occur when developing a business.

Example 4: Fishbone Diagram — Bad Coffee

This diagram was created in ConceptDraw PRO using the Fishbone Diagrams Library from the Fishbone Diagrams Solution. An experienced user spent 15 minutes creating this sample.

This sample diagram using the Fishbone Diagram Solution visualizes the potential factors that cause an overall effect, making it possible to solve the problem. It is an excellent idea to use the clipart on the fishbone diagram to make it bright, interesting and attractive.

Example 5: Fishbone Diagram — Production Process

This diagram was created in ConceptDraw PRO using the Fishbone Diagrams Library from the Fishbone Diagrams Solution. An experienced user spent 10 minutes creating this sample.

This sample diagram using the Fishbone Diagram Solution shows factors that are the possible causes of a problem and the relationships among these factors. It’s very useful and convenient to add color accents on the fishbone diagram for a bigger impact.


Fishbone Diagrams Solution for Microsoft Windows

What I Need to Get Started

ConceptDraw PRO v9 and the “Fishbone Diagrams” solution, found in the Management area of ConceptDraw Solution Park, are all you need to get started. Make sure both are installed on your computer.

How to install

Download and install ConceptDraw STORE and ConceptDraw PRO. Next, install the “Fishbone Diagrams” solution using ConceptDraw STORE.

Fishbone Diagrams Solution - Install

Start using

Fishbone Diagrams Solution - Start using

Fishbone Diagrams

A causal model is an abstract concept, that describes the causal mechanisms of a system, by noting certain variables and their influence on each other, in an effort to discover the cause of a certain problem or flaw. This model is presented in diagram form by using a fishbone diagram — also known as a cause and effect diagram, herringbone diagram or Ishikawa diagram, the latter name referring to the inventor of the technique, Kaoru Ishikawa. The fish-themed names are used due to the visual arrangement of the numerous variables, designed to represent the ribs of a skeletal fish, that arrow into a central spine whereupon the main problem is placed where the head would be.

Generic fishbone diagram

A generic fishbone diagram, identifying key points — created using ConceptDraw PRO

The primary aim of a fishbone diagram is to identify the root cause of a certain effect, achieved by breaking the causes down into successive levels of detail, in order to assess the level of influence for each one. This makes them popular for use product design and quality control; for systems that have a wide source variables acting upon them, and where it isn't always immediately apparent which variable is negatively affecting the end result. For example, say a product is coming off the line which is of poor quality. Is it the fault of the materials? The line equipment? Perhaps the input of the workers on the line? A fishbone diagram allows you to collect all these causes in terms of their relationship with one another, and narrow down the problem to the root cause.

Causes are commonly grouped into a number of distinct categories. There are other variations to this list, and other causes specific to certain industries, which we will look at later. But this list shows the type of causes and variables that often need to be identified:

  • People — anyone who directly influences a process, employees, couriers, customers etc.
  • Machines — the equipment required for a task, computers, tooling, transport.
  • Materials — resources used in a process, or used to design products.
  • Methods — rules and regulations that are attributed to a task, certain policies and procedures.
  • Environment — environmental conditions such as location, temperature, time, and even local culture.

As an indication of their usefulness in regards to quality management, fishbone diagrams represent one of the Seven Basic Tools of Quality, a collection of diagram techniques seen as the most helpful in a troubleshooting scenario. The other diagrams in this group include the check sheet, control chart, histogram, Pareto chart, scatter diagram and flow chart — they are known as 'basic' tools due to their relative ease of use people unfamiliar with diagram techniques.

The industry of causation

While certain causes and effects can be found in any line of industry, different forms of business with different end-goals will choose a particular emphasis when identifying possible variables. Manufacturing problems are most likely to arise through machinery or material causation, while service industries can look at pricing and customer interaction aspects. As such, certain industries have their own framework from which to pinpoint variables; this reference guide can then be brainstormed collaboratively and grouped into relevant categories on the fishbone.

Here are some examples of industry specific causation categories:

Manufacturing — The 5 Ms

  • Machine (equipment and technology)
  • Measurement (inspection, data results)
  • Material (raw materials, consumables and information)
  • Method (steps in design process)
  • Man/Mind Power (physical labour or brainpower)

    Cause of product issue during manufacture

    Cause of product issue during manufacture, created using ConceptDraw PRO

Marketing — The 8 Ps

  • Product (product quality, features, brand, packaging)
  • Distribution (locations, middle men, availability, stock levels)
  • Price (retail price, manufacturing cost, discounts, pricing strategies)
  • Promotion (advertising, publicity, web presence, market research)
  • People (expertise, capabilities, experience, training)
  • Processes (project management, product development)
  • Performance (productivity, profitability)
  • Philosophy (mission, planning, vision)

Services — The 5 Ss

  • Surrounding (locations, local rules and customs)
  • Suppliers (who provides resources, materials etc)
  • Systems (computer systems or networks)
  • Skills (aptitude of the workforce)
  • Safety (codes and standards of best practice that must be followed)

These are some of the more common variants; different lists exist which add or take away certain elements, but these surmise the core principles. The simple intention is to encourage thorough inspection of anything that might relate to a core problem that needs solving — really, the prompts you use to do this are up to you.

Solving problems with ConceptDraw

As part of ConceptDraw's ever expanding portfolio of business productivity tools, the Fishbone Diagram solution offers assistance to those using problem solving techniques in their line of work. Combined with the intuitive controls of ConceptDraw PRO, the solution aims to be accessible for any level of user, with a full tutorial and video section for beginners. As ever with solutions from CS Odessa, full vector stencil libraries are provided, full of professionally designed graphics and icons, as well as an array of templates and samples that give an example of the sort of form a fishbone diagram can take.

The Fishbone Diagram solution is one of a number of solutions aimed at creating causal models and workflow problem solving. In fact, many of the diagrams listed alongside fishbones as the Seven Basic Tools of Quality have a dedicated solution or library found in ConceptDraw's Solution Park, such as root cause diagrams, flowcharts, and histograms. Taken together, all these elements combine to create a powerful software suite capable of taking care of all your problem solving requirements.