Fishbone Diagram Tutorial

Fishbone diagram tutorial

A fishbone diagram is a powerful problem-solving tool used in healthcare, engineering, and many other industries. Find out how you can use Lucidchart to construct one. It’s easy to create and share!

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Basics of fishbone diagrams

A fishbone diagram is also known as an Ishikawa diagram, herringbone diagram, or cause-and-effect diagram. Before you start building one, you should make sure you are familiar with what it is and how it’s best used. Head over to our fishbone diagram example page for an in-depth explanation.


CHOOSE A TOOL

1.

To start, you’ll need to pick a medium for drawing your diagram. If you are designing a very simple chart, feel free to use a paper and pencil. However, if your fishbone diagram is more complicated, a sketched document might be difficult to read or modify. Additionally, developing a digital diagram will make it easier to access and share if you are working with a team.

For this tutorial, we’ll proceed as if you’re using Lucidchart to build the diagram. Signing up for an account is free and easy.


DETERMINE YOUR PROBLEM STATEMENT

2.

The first thing you need for your fishbone diagram is a problem statement. Since fishbone diagrams are used to analyze cause-and-effect relationships, the problem statement is your final effect or result. Drag out a box from the toolbox in Lucidchart (it’s accessible from the left side of the screen), then double-click to label it accordingly. Depending on your industry and use case, the problem could be anything from “shipments arrive late” to “patient readmitted to the hospital.” Once you have the problem statement, draw a line out from it. Your line will be shorter or longer depending on how many categories you want to include.

Fishbone diagram tutorial

LIST CATEGORIES

3.

Next, you’ll add lines and corresponding boxes to show the categories of causes for your problem statement. It might be helpful here to think backwards. First, determine all the potential causes for a problem, and then group them into categories. The traditional categories for a fishbone diagram are the six M's:

  • Machines
  • Methods
  • Materials
  • Measurements
  • Mother Nature
  • Manpower

If you’re not sure what to include, these categories are a great first step. You are also free to choose your own, more specific categories, depending on what best fits your diagram.

ADD CAUSES

4.

To add causes, draw new lines from the category lines and label them with text boxes. To draw a line without dragging it out from a shape, simply hold down the L key and crosshairs will appear. Click on any line again to angle it or rotate it. Remember to add as many causes as you can think of, even if some of them are less likely to occur than others. The more details you have, the easier it will be to analyze your problem.

Fishbone diagram tutorial

Review your diagram

After you’ve completed the document, it’s time to review. Make sure your text is error-free and large enough to read. Did you include all relevant information, and is it organized under the right categories? Try sending a URL to a colleague and inviting them to comment or collaborate with you.


If you hate creating unnecessary accounts, don’t worry. To make your diagramming experience even easier, Lucidchart is integrated with Google Apps, Confluence, and other business tools. Try it today!

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