Six Sigma Tools: How Is The Fishing?

There is nothing so steeped in the American culture as fishing. Images of boys and their cane poles. Dads and sons spending a lazy afternoon by the river, talking about fish, nature and life. It’s a right of passage for most. For some it’s a relaxing hobby. Others, it is a focused and detailed sport, requiring skill, the proper gear and the proper mindset. No matter how you approach it, the act of fishing clears the mind, allows focus and provides clarity of pressing problems. When the gear is packed and the fish are being cleaned, we find ourselves unburdened of our problems because the act of fishing gave us the clarity to explore problems and find solutions that previously were elusive.

The practice of Six Sigma employs a tool that allows similar results. The Fishbone Diagram, also known as the “Cause and Effect” diagram, is used as a structured tool for brainstorming. Its purpose is to aid organizational teams (in a structured way) in examining and analyzing potential causes for a specific issue. When using this approach, the brainstorming session is conducted around specific categories of focus.

The categories employed include: methods, people, machines, equipment, materials, environment and management. To begin the exercise, the problem is identified and stated, then the team brainstorms for causes that center around each category. The name Fishbone Diagram is used, since the problem is placed at the head, the bones of the fish are the lines drawn from the category problems, which lead to the head or the problem.

Utilizing this tool properly achieves significant results and analysis for the problem identified. It allows the team to take the problem down to the bone, examining various “what if’s” and identifying true causes versus perceived or anticipated excuses. The Fishbone Diagram allows a Lean Six Sigma practitioner the ability to clear the confusion surrounding a problem, identify specific causes, starting the team towards a clearer understanding of the stated problem or challenge. When managed properly, it is one of the most powerful and effective tools available to the Six Sigma practitioner.

Learn more about Six Sigma and the tools of the profession by going to www.6sigma.us. Learn more about our Six Sigma training and certifications that will allow you to use the Fishbone Diagram tool effectively.

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