Filtering the Fishy stuff with a Fishbone Diagram

Imagine a situation where you’re in therapy. The therapy is for your addiction. You’re a person who’s addicting to winning. Over the years, it just went a little out of hand to the point, you’d do anything and everything to win. In simple words, you’re ready to play dirty if push comes to shove.

What is a fishbone diagram

Now the therapists job is to rectify this addiction. Most addictions or behaviors are rooted from childhood trauma’s and environments. That’s Clinical Psychology 101. So now, the therapist tries to uncover your childhood & understand where was the addiction born. Since you know it’s some incident or habit from your childhood that made you like this, we can actually jot down possible reasons why it is so.

Could it be you always were winning when you were a kid whether it was Academics, Sports, Contests etc & you just accepted that it’s your nature to win. The accolades from all the wins fueled your desire to keep winning. Was one of your parents a real rough trainer and showed no mercy so he/she could make a winner out of you. The possible reasons are endless. What we just did here, uncovering causes for a problem falls under an interesting process called Fishbone Diagram/Cause & Effect Diagram.

Fishbone Diagrams are mainly used in corporate analysis to understand and pin point the exact cause for a specific effect. Fishbone diagrams contain numerous causes for that one effect. It’s called a Fishbone diagram because the anatomy of the diagram is similar to the side view of a fish.

Best Charts, Graphs, and Diagram Tools
  1. 10 Best Online Chart Maker of 2023
  2. 10 Best Microsoft Visio Alternatives 2023
  3. 10 Best Org Chart Maker of 2023
  4. 10 Best UML Diagram Tools 2023
  5. 10 Best Entity Relationship Diagram (ERD) Tools 2023

The prime effect or problem is placed at the right corner which is the head of the fish and the ribs extend as the probable causes for the problem with various sub layers as well.


Fishbone Diagrams were created by a Japanese Organizational Theorist called Professor Kaoru Ishikawa. Hence the diagram is also nicknamed as the Ishikawa Diagram. They became popular in the 1960’s when Professor Ishikawa was part of the quality control team at Kawasaki Shipyards. Needless to say, it helped the late Professor become one of the founding fathers of modern management and his invention also became a part of the seven basic tools of quality control.

After his passing in the year 1989, his eulogy speech spoke about some of his characteristics which were similar to his creations. The late professor was a modest individual who followed his own teachings by securing facts and subjecting them to rigorous analysis. Sounds similar? The basis of the Fishbone Diagram revolves around the same principle.

What is a Fishbone Diagram?

Fishbone Diagram is just one of the many tools of Data Visualization to help understand problems more clearly. Fishbone Diagram in particular is useful when there is very little quantitative data available. It’s akin to human nature to get right to the business of solving a problem and not wasting any time. So with the help of a Fishbone Diagram, the various causes for a problem can be listed so that management can get a better understanding of the causes and create more solid solutions.

Now let’s discuss a little bit about the various avenues where a Fishbone Diagram is ideally in use. Marketing is one such avenue where a Fishbone Diagram can be very beneficial. Because of the current market situations, customers are unstable. Brand Image and Loyalty are some of the things that can determine the longevity of a Brand. To be in the list of those, a brand has to solve customer issues and provide satisfaction & value. If a brand is not able to do that for it’s customers, then something is wrong. But what? This is where the Diagram comes in.

A Fishbone Diagram will help address all the factors which are hampering the brand and be able to address them with robust solutions. When you begin a course in Marketing, one of the first things you’ll learn about are the 7P’s. The 7P’s are the variables of a Marketing mix which are continually evaluated and reevaluated to achieve maximum results.

The 7p’s are also the bones of the Fishbone Diagram. The P’s are listed below:

  • Product
  • Place
  • Price
  • Promotion
  • People
  • Positioning
  • Packaging

Mazda Motors used the Fishbone Diagram during the development of the Miata X-5 Sports Car. Their result was intended around the Japanese phrase “Jinba Ittai” which means Horse & Rider in Unison. The main causes were centered around touch, braking while the sub-prime causes were around factors such as 50/50 weight distribution, elbow rest on the driver’s seat etc. All these factors which were identified in the diagram were included in the final design.

The fishbone diagram was made to help approach problems in a more systematic and uncomplicated manner. By addressing various causes for a problem, the brainstorming team is able to cover almost all possibilities with due diligence & be able to mark them out with 100% confidence. However, the Diagram works two ways. To be blunt, a fishbone diagram was made to help save time as well in solving issues but if the team that is solving the issue have communication problems between each other or not giving importance to every team member’s opinions and assumptions, then the whole initiative is futile.

Related Posts:

  1. Decision Tree
  2. Influence Diagram
  3. Unified Modeling Language: Making Visualization Easier
  4. 10 Best Venn Diagram Makers

We need to remember that Man used the resources he had with him to light a fire, invent the wheel etc. And it wasn’t just a single Man but multiple Men who worked together. Likewise in a team, if there is no understanding or collaboration between one another or if there is animosity between teammates, then the result will be zero progress.

Interesting enough, these types of issues can also be addressed using a Fishbone Diagram. Companies should take initiative in solving these kind of issues as well so that their internal functions won’t be hampered due to grievances from employees.

Problems exist in every organization. No company can exist without facing problems from time to time. It’s how we identify & address those problems that shows the resilience of us as an organization and as a team. Overcoming adversity whether as an individual or as an organization helps to build character which in the eyes of the audience is the most attractive factor to linger towards.

Leave a Comment