Putting problems front & center
Solutions are great... but only if you correctly understand the problems you're trying to address. The Fishbone Diagram provides a method to diagnosing all potential issues, big and small.
Problems can happen at any/all stages of an operation. But instead of guessing at what's causing a problem (or worse: waiting for something to go wrong), the Fishbone Diagram provides small teams an at-a-glance method to consider the variables that hamper productivity.
Get started by identifying the exact problem. If you have the information, note the person/department who is responsible for the problem and/or when and where it occurs. Jot it down on a large space — like a Post-it® Dry Erase Surface — to give your diagram session plenty of room to grow.
Jot the problem down on a Post-it® Super Sticky Note — this will form the "head" of your diagram. From the center of this piece of paper, draw a horizontal line out — this line will act as the "spine" from which your team will address the problem — hence the fishbone name.
From here, discuss and identify the components or factors that may contribute to the problem. It may be a transportation issue, a staffing situation, etc. Try to explore as many possibilities as you and your team can.
Draw a line off of the diagram's "spine" for each of the problem's possible components and label them (i.e. transportation, staffing, etc.). (Hint: use a Post-it® Full Adhesive Roll to create your "spine" to allow for flexibility in case your diagram changes.)
Within these components, have the team brainstorm the causes that could be responsible. Put these causes on a Post-it® Super Sticky Note and add them to the appropriate component line (off of the diagram's "spine").
Once complete, you and your team will have a visual outline towards understanding the problem and can begin a more thorough investigation into each of its possible contributing factors.