6 Steps How to Create a Fishbone Diagram for a Brainstorming.

How to Create a Fishbone Diagram Cause and Effect


In this article, you will learn how to create a Fishbone Diagram in terms of process excellence, lean six sigma, and lean manufacturing activities.


A Fishbone Diagram (also called a Cause and Effect Diagram or Ishikawa Diagram) is a visualization tool for categorizing the potential causes of a problem in order to identify its root causes. sigma definitions


  1. Describe one problem at the time to be analyzed in the center of the diagram. Agree with your team on a problem statement (effect). Write it at the center-right of the diagram. Draw a box around it and draw a horizontal arrow running to it.
  2. During the brainstorming, describe the major categories of causes of the problem. Some companies use specific headings for their categories but other companies use generic headings, such as: How to Create a Fishbone Diagram
    • Methods
    • Machines (equipment)
    • People (manpower)
    • Materials
    • Measurement
    • Environment
  1. Describe the categories of causes as branches from the main arrow of the fishbone. How to Create a Fishbone Diagram
  2. Make a brainstorming of ideas related to all the possible causes of the problem. Determine the origin of the problem considering “Why does this happen?” Then, write each idea or possible root cause as a subbranch from the appropriate category.  As applicable, feel free to write the root cause(s) in several subbranches or places if they apply to more than one category.
  3. Apply the 5 Why’s an approach, repeating again the question(s) of “Why this problem happen?” about each cause previously defined. Feel free to write sub-causes branching off the causes. Once applying the 5 Why’s the approach and asking “Why?” in the brainstorming generate deeper levels of causes. Each layer of branches represents a causal relationship.
  4. Once all ideas are considered during the brainstorming with your team responding all why’s this problem happens, then, pay attention to all causes on the branches with more probability to occur, to assign the top three most probable causes and priority number for further evaluation. How to Create a Fishbone Diagram


The following fishbone diagram was prepared to understand a particular problem of bioburden contamination in medical device products found out of specifications. During the brainstorming were used the six generic headings to present the probable root causes and ideas. As you can see the layers of branches show thorough thinking about the causes of the problem.

Bioburden Fishbone Diagram
Bioburden Fishbone Diagram


For example, under the heading “Machines,” the idea “maintenance” and “validation” can show how to create a fishbone diagram using several kinds of equipment and then several specific machine models.

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CIQA is a quality and regulatory consultant with 25 years of experience developing products and managing projects in the medical device supply chain, and pharmaceutical industries. Rest assured of the safety or being in the right hands.

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REFERENCES: How to Create a Fishbone Diagram.




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Ramon Cayuela, MS, BS, Chemical Engineering

CIQA President and CEO.
I've been working in validation engineering since 1992 with many multinational pharmaceutical companies. I love sharing my passion and knowledge with others. If you have any questions about anything (or just have general questions). I will be more than happy to assist you. You can count on the BEST customer service on CIQA. I go to great lengths to make sure my clients are 100% satisfied with their purchases and check emails/messages consistently throughout the day. You can rest assured that everything being sold here is as-described or your money back. I look forward to working with you!