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Ishikawa Diagram / Cause-Effect Diagram

A Project Report Presented to Prof. Bhole

Subject: Productivity Techniques

Prin. L. N. Welingkar Institute of Management Development & Research Mumbai

Masters in Marketing Management (MMM)


Ms. Purvangi Rathod Roll No. 91


Total Quality Management is a management approach that originated in the 1950's and has steadily become more popular since the early 1980's. Total Quality is a description of the culture, attitude and organization of a company that strives to provide customers with products and services that satisfy their needs. The culture requires quality in all aspects of the company's operations, with processes being done right the first time and defects and waste eradicated from operations. Total Quality Management, TQM, is a method by which management and employees can become involved in the continuous improvement of the production of goods and services. It is a combination of quality and management tools aimed at increasing business and reducing losses due to wasteful practices. Some of the companies who have implemented TQM include Ford Motor Company, Phillips Semiconductor, SGL Carbon, Motorola and Toyota Motor Company. In 1950, the Japanese Union of Scientists and Engineers (JUSE) invited legendary quality guru W. Edwards Deming to go to Japan and train hundreds of Japanese engineers, managers and scholars in statistical process control. Deming also delivered a series of lectures to Japanese business managers on the subject, and during his lectures, he would emphasis the importance of what he called the "basic tool" that were available to use in quality control. One of the members of the JUSE was Kaoru Ishikawa, at the time an associate professor at the University of Tokyo. Ishikawa had a desire to 'democratize quality': that is to say, he wanted to make quality control comprehensible to all workers, and inspired by Demings lectures, he formalized the Seven Basic Tools of Quality Control. Total Quality Management (TQM) and Total Quality Control (TQC) literature make frequent mention of seven basic tools. Kaoru Ishikawa contends that 95% of a company's problems can be solved using these seven tools. The tools are designed for simplicity. The tools are: Ishikawa Diagram Flow Chart Checklists Pareto Charts Histograms Scattergrams Control Charts

Ishikawa / Fishbone / Cause-Effect Diagram

The Ishikawa Diagram, also known as the Fishbone Diagram or the Cause-and-Effect Diagram, is a tool used for systematically identifying and presenting all the possible causes of a particular problem in graphical format. The possible causes are presented at various levels of detail in connected branches, with the level of detail increasing as the branch goes outward, i.e., an outer branch is a cause of the inner branch it is attached to. Thus, the outermost branches usually indicate the root causes of the problem. The Ishikawa Diagram resembles a fishbone (hence the alternative name "Fishbone Diagram") - it has a box (the 'fish head') that contains the statement of the problem at one end of the diagram. From this box originates the main branch (the 'fish spine') of the diagram. Sticking out of this main branch are major branches that categorize the causes according to their nature. In semiconductor manufacturing, 4 major branches are often used by beginners, referred to as the '4 M's', corresponding to 'Man', 'Machine', 'Materials', and 'Methods'. Sometimes 5 branches are used ('5 M's'), with the fifth branch standing for 'Measurement', or even 'M-vironment.' These 'M's' or problem cause categories are used to classify each cause identified for easier analysis of data. Of course, one is not constrained to use these categories in a fishbone diagram. Experienced users of the diagram add more branches and/or use different categories, depending on what would be more effective in dealing with the problem. Figure 1 shows the basic framework of an Ishikawa Diagram.

Basic framework of an Ishikawa Diagram


The Fishbone Diagram is a graphic tool that can help factories and other organizations to solve problems by conducting an analysis of a situation in a diagram that looks like a fishbone. The Fishbone Diagram is also known as the Ishikawa diagram after the Japanese quality management expert who created it.

The Fishbone Diagram helps you to identify, sort, display and analyse possible causes of a specific problem

The Fishbone Diagram can be used by individuals or teams; probably most effectively by a group of people. It involves the drawing of a diagram on a chalkboard or flipchart by a team leader who first presents the main problem that needs to be examined. The team leader then asks for assistance from the group to determine the main causes. These causes are subsequently drawn in the diagram on the board. The team assists by making PROSPECTIVE USERS: suggestions and, eventually, the entire Any factory team that: Fishbone Diagram is filled out. Once the Needs to study a problem/issue to fishbone is complete, team discussions takes determine the root cause place to decide what the most likely root Wants to study all the possible causes of the problem are. These causes are reasons why a process is beginning to have difficulties, problems or highlighted to indicate items that should be breakdowns acted upon, and the use of the tool is Needs to identify areas for data complete. The Fishbone Diagram can help collection you to see very clearly the reasons why a Wants to study why a process is not situation or problem exists by listing all the performing properly or producing factors that influence it. It is also possible to the desired results identify solutions that may help solve more than one problem. While carrying out this analysis, you may make further discoveries that will also help you remove other blocks.

Steps in implementation
The basic steps in a chronological sequence are:

Decide on the problem to be examined and write it down. Try to be as specific and precise as possible. Define the characteristics of the problem and make it the backbone of the fish. Decide on the main causes of the problem. You can divide the causes into categories, e.g. workers, machine, material, method etc. Assign one large bone coming off the backbone of the fish to each category For each main cause, think of an area that contributes to the problem e.g. lack of training might be a main cause in the workers category. Write these on the horizontal lines the middle bones that run out from the large bones. Analyse and define secondary causes and add them as small bones. For each cause, ask why does this happen? If there is another reason, include it on a branch of the horizontal line for that cause: e.g. why is there a lack of training? The answer may be a lack of funding. This should then be added to the diagram. The Fishbone Diagram should then help you to see the larger problem more clearly and identify the smaller problems that contribute to the larger ones. When such a check has been carried out, it is possible to look back with a sharper eye at the whole factory process and observe how much extra work is required and how much extra time is wasted when due to the cumulative effect of design faults, ineffective production methods, poor management of the process and below standard work by the worker.

(ii) (iii)


(v) (vi)



Fishbone Diagrams are usually constructed using brainstorming techniques. Brainstorming, or going through the above steps with a group of people, is in itself a very valuable exercise to bring members of a team together to focus on a common problem. The resources required for using Fishbone Diagrams as a problem solving tool therefore include time allocated to the exercise by a team of workers who will act as the brainstorm group. In addition you will need drawing materials such a big flipchart or large sheets of paper, masking tape, flipchart markers or pens, and the brainstorm ideas. No financial resources or prior training are necessary.

Figure 2. How to draw a Fishbone Diagram

The structure provided by Fishbone Diagrams helps team members think in a very systematic way. 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. Some of the benefits of constructing Fishbone Diagrams are that they: Help determine the root causes of a problem or quality characteristic using a structured approach. Encourage group participation and utilize group knowledge of the process. Use an orderly, easy-to-read format to illustrate cause-and-effect relationships. Indicate possible causes of variation in a process. Increase knowledge of the process by helping everyone to learn more about the factors at work and how they relate. Identify areas where data should be collected for further study.


Fishbone Diagrams with only a few factors or bones, while looking neat and well ordered, may well reflect a lack of knowledge of the situation, or show that the effort to draw the diagram was not creative and exhaustive enough. A good Fishbone Diagram is one which explores all possibilities so it is often large and complex-looking as factors multiply for each new related idea noted down.


It is important to monitor the outcome of the Fishbone Diagram building exercise by ensuring that effective measures are taken to tackle and resolve the problems that have been identified. Furthermore, building a Fishbone Diagram does not have to be a one-off exercise. The diagram is often used as a working document that is updated as and when more data has been collected and when various solutions have been tried.

Figure 3. Example of Fishbone Diagram to establish the cause and effect of delays in product development

Figure 4. Example of Ishikawa diagram shows factors affecting the quality of air travel


Figure 4. Example of Ishikawa diagram to establish the cause and effect of High Electrical Overstress occurence:


Identifying causes in this way enables you to see clearly where improvements can be made and will allow you to measure against specific improvements made. Step 1 Basic Diagram the problem is entered into a box on the right and a single line drawn to the centre of the box (as shown below). This could be achieved by drawing this onto a large sheet of paper and putting it on a wall. Step 2 - Have the team generate and clarify all the potential sources of variation. This could be achieved by writing these onto adhesive notes which can be moved around the diagram as required. Step 3 - Sort the process variables into naturally related groups. The labels of these groups are the names for the major bones on the Ishikawa diagram. These could be those shown above for services or ones that better meet the requirements of your diagram. Draw these groupings as main lines on the diagram. Step 4 - Place the process variables on the appropriate bones of the Ishikawa diagram. Step 5 - Combine each bone in turn, insuring that the process variables are specific, measurable, and controllable. If they are not, branch or "explode" the process variables until the ends of the branches are specific, measurable, and controllable.

Points to remember
Take care to identify causes rather than symptoms. Post diagrams to stimulate thinking and get input from other staff. Self-adhesive notes can be used to construct Ishikawa diagrams. Sources of variation can be rearranged to reflect appropriate categories with minimal rework. Insure that the ideas placed on the Ishikawa diagram are process variables, not special caused, other problems, tampering, etc. Review the quick fixes and rephrase them, if possible, so that they are process variables.