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Fishbone Diagram

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. Jot the problem down


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.)

Draw a line off the diagram's spine


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.

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