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- Tuesday, August 23, 2011

When do you use the Ishikawa Cause & Effect Diagram?

According to WikipediaIshikawa diagrams (also called fishbone diagrams, or herringbone diagrams , cause-and-effect diagrams, or Fishikawa) are causal diagramsthat show the causes of a certain event -- created by Kaoru Ishikawa (1990).[1] Common uses of the Ishikawa diagram are product design and quality defect prevention, to identify potential factors causing an overall effect. Each cause or reason for imperfection is a source of variation. Causes are usually grouped into major categories to identify these sources of variation. The categories typically include:
  • People: Anyone involved with the process

  • Methods: How the process is performed and the specific requirements for doing it, such as policies, procedures, rules, regulations and laws

  • Machines: Any equipment, computers, tools etc. required to accomplish the job

  • Materials: Raw materials, parts, pens, paper, etc. used to produce the final product

  • Measurements: Data generated from the process that are used to evaluate its quality

  • Environment: The conditions, such as location, time, temperature, and culture in which the process operates

Christian Paulsen raised a discussion about 2 Reasons You Need to Do a Fishbone Diagram.

Carlos Conejo, CSSBB
I use the Ishikawa in the Define Phase to find out "what's going on" the most and where. Identify the "smoking gun" and the root causes. Then in the analysis phase we could use use a FMEA to come up with how severe X occurance X detection to quantify our finding through the RPN, again the FMEA would lead us to another "smoking gun" this time even more quantifiable, especially as it relates to the Ppk, or Cpk or statistical control of the process. Then, for probelm solving we brainstorm the new Future State and we quantify the cause and effect of the countermeasures. It's almost like using a double or reverse forcefield analysis, which BTW is another cause and effect instrument. BTW, my Mom retired from Nestle, 26 years in the sugar ice cream cone division.

Baris Kiyar
I never used it and didn't allow my black belts to use it. It's a lazy person's tool. When used at the beginning, contrary to belief, it biases people and prevents projects from reaching their true potential.
However, it can be useful for presentations.
I would have let GBs use it, since I didn't expect much from them... But for a BB, I had higher expectations.

MindTools explains Cause and Effect Diagrams help you to think through causes of a problem thoroughly. Their major benefit is that they push you to consider all possible causes of the problem, rather than just the ones that are most obvious.
The approach combinesbrainstorming with use of a type of concept map.
Cause and Effect Diagrams are also known as Fishbone Diagramsbecause a completed diagram can look like the skeleton of a fish; and as Ishikawa Diagrams, after Professor Kaoru Ishikawa, a pioneer of quality management, who devised them in the 1960s

Introduction to Quality ControlSkymark.com also explains that cause & effect diagram is the brainchild of Kaoru Ishikawa, who pioneered quality management processes in the Kawasaki shipyards, and in the process became one of the founding fathers of modern management. The cause and effect diagram is used to explore all the potential or real causes (or inputs) that result in a single effect (or output). Causes are arranged according to their level of importance or detail, resulting in a depiction of relationships and hierarchy of events. This can help you search for root causes, identify areas where there may be problems, and compare the relative importance of different causes.
Causes in a cause & effect diagram are frequently arranged into four major categories. While these categories can be anything, you will often see:
  • manpower, methods, materials, and machinery (recommended for manufacturing)

  • equipment, policies, procedures, and people (recommended for administration and service).


Christian Paulsen

2ndChristian Paulsen

is exploring consulting opportunities as the Owner and Executive Consultant at Paulsen & Paulsen, LLC.
Greater Chicago Area 
Consumer Goods

  • Executive Consultant at Paulsen & Paulsen, LLC

  • Consulting Associate to the Supply Chain Practice at The Partnering Group



  • Regent University

  • Lehigh University - College of Business and Economics

  • Purdue University


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