Break Down, Analyze and Identify Causes with Fishbone


Identify the changes we can test to improve a process or a problem is a common challenge for individuals, teams, and enterprises.

Use cause-and-effect diagram, also known as fishbone diagram, because of the resemblance to the bones of a fish, to explore and display the possible causes of a certain effect.

Today, we will find out what is fishbone diagram, and put it into use for discovering potential solutions of existing problems.

What is Fishbone Diagram

The fishbone diagram is also called Ishikawa diagram because it was primarily used as a basic tool of quality control by Kaoru Ishikawa at the University of Tokyo. Until today, this diagram is also considered part of the basic seven tools of quality control today.

Let’s have a closer look at the fishbone diagram.

The head of the fishbone diagram is the problem itself, while each bone connects to its spine represents a category of the potential causes of the problem. You can also decide these categories based on your situation. Categories can be regarded as variables in a product, a process, or anything that keeps you from perfection.

There are 6 commonly used categories in the fishbone diagram.


The fishbone diagram helps you to determine the variables so that you can find ways to deal with them and approach to your goal steadily.

How to Create a Fishbone Diagram in XMind

Step 1: Choose Fishbone in the pop-up window.


Step 2: The head of a classical fishbone diagram is usually on the right of the page. You can change the structure, or just keep it.


Step 3: Write the problem statement in a box in the mouth, and decide the categories that you think might include the potential cause of the problem.


The process of categorizing potential causes may be very useful to help you to break down a complex problem and focus in on it from various perspectives.

Step 4: Generate a list of causes based on the category.


You can keep asking yourself why until you’ve reached a level of useful details. That is when the cause is specific enough to be able to test a change and to measure its effects.

When to Use Fishbone Diagram

Where there’s a problem, there comes a fishbone diagram.

You can use fishbone in the following activities:

1. Analyze an Issue and Identify Potential Causes.



2. Uncover Bottlenecks of a Process.


3. Optimize the Solution/Strategy.


Draw a fishbone diagram is not hard, but drilling deeper and deeper for various causes is hard. In the latest XMind, we have improved the layout of the fishbone and optimized the logic when digging causes of the problem, helping you to focus when analyzing a problem, and always be motivated.


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