Fishbone Diagram Template: An Essential Tool For Problem Solving

43 Great Fishbone Diagram Templates & Examples [Word, Excel]
43 Great Fishbone Diagram Templates & Examples [Word, Excel] from

When it comes to problem solving, having a structured approach is crucial. One effective tool that can help identify the root causes of an issue is the fishbone diagram. Also known as the Ishikawa diagram or cause-and-effect diagram, this technique provides a visual representation of the various factors contributing to a problem. In this article, we will explore the fishbone diagram template, its benefits, and how to use it effectively.

What is a Fishbone Diagram?

A fishbone diagram is a graphical tool used to analyze cause-and-effect relationships in a specific problem or process. It was developed by Kaoru Ishikawa, a Japanese quality control expert, in the 1960s. The diagram gets its name from its shape, which resembles the skeleton of a fish.

The fishbone diagram consists of a horizontal line representing the problem or effect being analyzed. Branching off from this line are several "bones," each representing a different category of potential causes. These categories are typically labeled as the 6 M's: Manpower, Method, Machine, Material, Measurement, and Mother Nature (Environment).

How to Create a Fishbone Diagram

Creating a fishbone diagram is a straightforward process. Here's a step-by-step guide:

  1. Start by drawing a horizontal line in the center of a piece of paper or a whiteboard.
  2. At the end of the line, draw a small box or arrow to represent the problem or effect you are analyzing.
  3. Draw several diagonal lines branching off from the main line, like the bones of a fish.
  4. Label each branch with one of the 6 M's or any relevant categories specific to your problem.
  5. Identify the potential causes within each category and write them as smaller branches stemming from the corresponding main branch.
  6. Continue brainstorming and adding causes until you have exhausted all possibilities.

Once you have completed the diagram, you can analyze the potential causes and prioritize them based on their likelihood and impact. This will help you focus your efforts on addressing the most significant contributors to the problem.

The Benefits of Using a Fishbone Diagram Template

The fishbone diagram template offers several benefits for problem solving:

1. Visual Representation: The diagram provides a clear and visual representation of the various factors influencing a problem, making it easier to understand and communicate.

2. Collaboration: The fishbone diagram encourages collaborative problem solving by involving multiple stakeholders and perspectives. It serves as a useful tool during brainstorming sessions.

3. Root Cause Analysis: By identifying and categorizing potential causes, the fishbone diagram helps teams uncover the root causes of a problem rather than just addressing symptoms.

4. Focus and Prioritization: The diagram allows teams to focus their efforts on the most significant causes, enabling them to allocate resources effectively and efficiently.

5. Continuous Improvement: The fishbone diagram can be used not only for problem solving but also for ongoing process improvement. It helps identify areas for optimization and preventive measures.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Fishbone Diagram Template

1. What are the main categories in a fishbone diagram?

The main categories in a fishbone diagram are often referred to as the 6 M's: Manpower, Method, Machine, Material, Measurement, and Mother Nature (Environment). However, you can customize these categories based on the nature of your problem or process.

2. Can I use a fishbone diagram for personal problem solving?

Yes, the fishbone diagram can be used for personal problem solving as well. It can help you identify the underlying causes of an issue and guide you in finding effective solutions.

3. Are there any software tools available for creating fishbone diagrams?

Yes, there are several software tools available that offer fishbone diagram templates and allow for easy creation and customization. Some popular options include Lucidchart, SmartDraw, and Creately.

4. Can a fishbone diagram be used in any industry or field?

Yes, the fishbone diagram can be used in various industries and fields, including manufacturing, healthcare, IT, education, and more. It is a versatile tool that can be adapted to suit different problem-solving scenarios.

5. How long does it take to create a fishbone diagram?

The time required to create a fishbone diagram depends on the complexity of the problem and the number of potential causes. It can range from a few minutes for simple issues to several hours for more complex problems.

6. What should I do after creating a fishbone diagram?

After creating a fishbone diagram, you should analyze the potential causes and prioritize them based on their impact and likelihood. This will help you develop an action plan to address the root causes and solve the problem effectively.

7. Can a fishbone diagram be used for risk analysis?

While the primary purpose of a fishbone diagram is problem solving, it can also be adapted for risk analysis. By identifying potential causes of risks, teams can proactively implement preventive measures to minimize the likelihood and impact of those risks.

8. How often should a fishbone diagram be used?

A fishbone diagram can be used whenever a problem arises that requires analysis and problem-solving. It can also be used proactively as part of continuous improvement initiatives to identify areas for optimization and prevention.

9. Is it necessary to involve a team when creating a fishbone diagram?

Involving a team in the creation of a fishbone diagram is highly recommended. Multiple perspectives and expertise can lead to a more comprehensive analysis and a wider range of potential causes.

10. Can I modify a fishbone diagram after it is created?

Yes, a fishbone diagram can be modified and updated as new information or insights emerge. It is a flexible tool that can evolve throughout the problem-solving process.


The fishbone diagram template is an invaluable tool for problem solving and root cause analysis. By visually representing the various factors contributing to a problem, it helps teams identify the underlying causes and develop effective solutions. Whether you are addressing issues in manufacturing, healthcare, or any other field, the fishbone diagram can guide you towards continuous improvement and better problem-solving outcomes.


fishbone diagram template, Ishikawa diagram, cause-and-effect diagram, problem solving, root cause analysis, 6 M's, Manpower, Method, Machine, Material, Measurement, Mother Nature, Environment, visual representation, collaboration, focus, prioritization, continuous improvement, FAQ, risk analysis