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Fishbone diagrams business analysis technique

By Simon Buehring on 28 Sep 2019

Fishbone diagrams

A Fishbone diagram is a problem analysis technique. It helps understand the basic causes of a business problem. Sometimes the root cause of the problem may be obvious. At other times, only the symptoms may appear.

Fishbone diagrams are similar to mind maps but are purely diagnostic.

Like a fishbone, the diagram consists of a head containing the name of the problem, a backbone which connects everything together, and spines which are connected to the backbone.

Attached to each spine is a possible area for causes of the problem. Four approaches can be taken when labelling the spines. These are:

1. The four Ms:

  • Manpower; Machines; Measures; Methods;

2. The alternative four Ms:

  • Manpower; Machines; Materials; Methods.

3. The six Ps:

  • People; Place; Processes; Physical evidence; Product/service; Performance measures.

4. The four Ss:

  • Surroundings; Suppliers; Systems; Skills.


Fishbone diagrams business analysis technique infographic.

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