Digital Society School

Fishbone diagram

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120 - 240 Low

Fishbone diagrams show the causes of a specific event.



To analyze possible problems that can help make design decisions. This method allows to get a clear overview of causes and effects.



1. Prepare the six arms of the diagram on a whiteboard. 

2. Define the problem clearly as a short statement in the head of the diagram. 

3. Describe the causes of each bone and write them down at the end of each branch. Use the 4 Ms as categories: Machine, Man, Methods, Materials. 

4. Minor causes are listed around the major causes. 

5. Interpret the diagram once its finished.


If there are branches that are too crowded, split them into different branches.


A diagram showing causes and effects.


Identify possibilities and opportunities for your design.


Source: Digital Society School


ISHIKAWA, Kaoru; ISHIKAWA, Kaoru. Guide to quality control. Tokyo: Asian Productivity Organization, 1982.

DALE, Barrie G.; VAN DER WIELE, Ton; VAN IWAARDEN, Jos. Managing quality. John Wiley & Sons, 2007.

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