Root Cause Analysis Tool – The Fishbone

Introduction to Fishbone Diagram

Problems are natural and they are inevitable in processes. Problems multiply or tend to exist intensively if they are not figured out at first and with their root cause identification. Strategists today describe root cause as nonconformance, something which is invisible and is more important to be identified than anything else during problem assessment.

Fishbone is one strategic tool that assists business strategists to reach out the root cause, ‘the non-conformance’. This tool differentiates between short-term problems and the problem that genuinely exists for longer time.

We are discussing Root Cause Analysis relative to Fishbone as one strategic tool that effectuates Root Cause Analysis. We will talk about Fishbone and it’s role in Root Causes Analysis (RCA) and the decision making procedure. Our aim is to acknowledge the significance of Fishbone in root cause identification and process improvement.

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Defining Fishbone Diagram

Fishbone also is known as Cause and Effect Diagram is one popular tool to breakdown problems into causes and their effects. It labels down causes and effects in such a way that they could be studied more clearly and as per each activity and situation. The primary focus of the Fishbone diagram is to study problems more separately from their symptoms. What led the problem and why it existed so firmly are few basic questions which Fishbone asks.

A fishbone helps to reach out the actual cause of the problem, that is hidden somewhere beyond the revealing factors. Fishbone helps strategists investigate the problem to the core, to it’s the genuine cause, to it’s root cause.

Fishbone and Root Cause Analysis

  • Root cause analysis goes along and sides by side with the fishbone. This tool differentiates causes of the problem from symptoms which are temporary and would not lead to the origin of the problem. This is first acknowledgment before to start a Root Cause Analysis.
  • The mouth of Fish reveals problem statement, what actually is the problem and how it occurred, what is it’s origin. This problem should be real i.e. assembled parts are incorrect, the equipment is down. This is second acknowledgment in RCA.
  • Fishbone applies on a problem with some hidden cause. Every cause is not displayed on Fishbone. The approach is to represent genuine causes and practical and real factors. In Fishbone, revealed causes are ladders to reach the root cause, the non-conformance.
  • The Fish projects all possible factors including environmental factors, resource and safety factors and factors related to policy and function. For understanding the complication of the problem, all such factors needs to be elaborated and studied one by one. The more comprehensive is the analysis, the easier to get to root cause and origin of the problem.
  • Root Cause Analysis needs to be progressive. This means people conducting the analysis should have solution-oriented approach. For every problem there must be a solution in hand to that problem.
  • Root Cause Analysis is effective if it gets successful identifying origin of the problem. RCA is a continued process and it continues until root cause is detected.

Brainstorming and Fishbone – Who to apply this technical tool?

The most pertinent question regarding Fishbone is who is going to apply it. The question arises when organizational intellectuals sit on resolving a complicated organizational problem. People who could brainstorm with objective solutions are the ones to be involved.

Those are IT personals, engineers, people who are technically sound and have administrative knowledge should be given this task to apply fishbone. Such people would have all grounds to recognize an organizational problem with its root. Their decision would matter among leadership to recognize the root cause, the non-conformance. Once the root cause is detected, a direction is automatically set to resolve the organizational problem.

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