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Published On: Fri, Dec 10th, 2021

What Is A Fishbone Diagram and How Can You Use It to Solve Your Business Problems

As per its namesake, a fishbone diagram visually represents an issue’s “bones” (or causes). It is similar to a flowchart and can be used for knowledge and process improvement, as well as a problem-solving tool.

It requires input from multiple team members during brainstorming sessions, which enables their ideas’ discussion without judgment or criticism. This continues until they begin to take shape on paper. 

Creating a fishbone diagram may seem like a lot of work upfront, but it is actually a very versatile and effective problem-solving tool. It can be used in any area of your business or organization where you need to identify the root causes engendering an issue.

You may also take advantage of fishbone diagram templates. They can also make it easy to categorize things and extract relevant solutions.

Man writing something on whiteboard

photo/ rawpixel

Purpose of Fishbone Diagrams

Some potential applications for fishbone diagrams in business include:

  • Process improvement – Identifying and addressing inefficient or ineffective processes
  • Quality control – Investigating issues with quality and determining their root causes
  • Problem solving – Diagnosing and solving specific problems
  • Meeting facilitation – Facilitating productive brainstorming sessions

Step-By-Step Procedure to Solve Business Problems With A Fishbone Diagram

The best way to learn how to use a fishbone diagram is to use it on a real problem. The following example will illustrate how you could apply the steps involved in creating this chart type.

Step 1: What Is The Problem?

For this exercise, imagine your employees are struggling with staying logged in to their computers for a specific length of time. 

Before you can determine why they are logging out, you have to identify the issue. 

Step 2: Brainstorm Causes 

Brainstorming sessions should include as many ideas as possible from everyone involved, with no judgment or criticism until all ideas have been freely shared. Staying logged into your computer is a simple task that generally requires little time.

Therefore, there are several potential causes for password expirations, ranging from user error to software glitches.

To create a fishbone diagram, each team member should be given a sheet of paper and asked to write as many potential causes as they could for why employees are logging out early. 

People should not be allowed to discuss their ideas until everyone is finished writing.

Step 3: Organize Your Ideas 

Put similar ideas together and title them accordingly. Do so after recording the initial list of possible causes on the fishbone diagram. 

Grouping and sorting your ideas helps identify common themes that may not have been noticed right away.

Also, it allows you to see which categories contain fewer or more ideas than others. 

Both insights can help you understand your next steps when analyzing this problem further. 

Step 4: Identify Similarities & Differences

Now that your ideas have been sorted and grouped, you can determine how they are related.

Look for similarities among the clusters to learn what common issues might be causing the problems you identified in Step 2 to arise. 

You will also want to focus on finding differences between separate groups of ideas. This will help you decide which ones to tackle first when devising a solution.

Step 5: Create Solutions & Evaluate Outcomes

Now that your ideas are organized in categories and prioritized based on their root causes, it is time to innovate solutions! 

If you first solve the most critical problems, the less important ones will not seem as difficult.

Once you have put your solutions in place, track whether or not they are successful by measuring how many employees are logging out early compared to before the changes were made. 

If the problem persists, you may need to go back to the drawing board and try a different approach.

Wrapping-It-Up

Fishbone diagrams are brilliant at identifying potential causes of a problem. Due to their versatility, they can be used in almost any business setting. 

By organizing your ideas and looking for similarities and differences, you can determine which ones are root causes, coming up with targeted solutions accordingly. 

After all, empirically measuring the results of your solutions is essential in determining whether or not they are successful in solving the problem.

If you need help getting started, try using Miro today – you may be surprised at how helpful it can be!

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About the Author

- Rupesh Singh is freelance writer and founder of moneyoutline.com You can follow him on Google + & Facebook.

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