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6Sigma Tools: Fishbone Diagram (Ishikawa Diagram)

published on July 16, 2012

We talk a lot about tools and techniques in this blog, but one I want to highlight is the Fishbone Diagram. This tool is effective because you don’t have to be a 6Sigma expert to understand its usefulness.

What is it?

A Fishbone Diagram is just what it says, a diagram that is used to develop ideas for cause and effect on within a given area. One of the best parts of this tool is that it creates a team atmosphere almost immediately, because you have to mine for ideas from the team.

What does it look like?

Wikipedia illustration

Wikipedia illustration

How does it work?

1. Identify the problem.

2. Identify the areas that might have caused the problem.

3. Ask the group to brainstorm; the point is to create ideas. This is not the time to qualify ideas, rather to just get a good solid list of possibilities.

4. Edit the list for duplications and clarity.

5. Qualify ideas- drill down the ideas and find the root cause, once that’s done rank each idea. Qualifying ideas is based on two factors: whether it is a noise or control issue. For the measurement/process category you are going to be looking for root causes that relate to how the process is measured or the process activity itself.

The people category challenges you to look at the people, staff and organization itself. You want to note any skills gaps, unclear position responsibilities and lack of direction.

The materials category should show highlight root cause ideas centered on parts, supplies and information needed to create metrics.

The equipment category should focus on tools related to the process such as machines, vendor input and maintenance.

The environment category should highlight root cause ideals on the physical environment, regulatory environment and market conditions.

This is just a beginning to Fishbone and next week we will go into how you analyze the information you develop. As with all of my posts, a belt is your best bet to walk you through the steps and help you get acclimated. For help give us a call, we will get you started and on your way to creating a lean organization.

published on July 16, 2012


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