Fishbone diagram

Brief Description (including a definition if possible)
The fishbone diagram (also known as the Ishikawa diagram after its inventor and the cause-and-effect diagram) is a useful tool for identifying many possible causes for an effect, either positive or negative. It helps to sort these ideas easily into useful categories.
It is a good method to prevent individuals from jumping to quick and overly simplistic reasons for a situation, and to encourage a more thorough exploration of the deeper issues.

When to use
  • Planning
  • Analysing

How to use
  • The team should agree on the ‘effect’. What is the aspect of a situation that is being addressed? For experience capitalization, this does not necessarily need to be the entire experience being capitalized; it may be one aspect of it.
  • Frame this effect in the form of a question, e.g. ‘Why did farmers not participate in training workshops?’ This is written in at the ‘head’ of the fishbone.
  • Brainstorm categories of causes. You can choose whichever work best for the particular situation, but often used categories include ‘people’, ‘procedures’, ‘policies’, ‘environment’. This can also be done by asking people to write causes on cards and by collecting and sorting these.
  • Use each category as a label for a diagonal branch.
  • For each cause, keep asking ‘why?’ until you can go no further.

Resources (add your resources)