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Cause and Effect Diagrams

Cause and Effect Diagrams

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Published by Mohammad Jaid Alam

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Published by: Mohammad Jaid Alam on Sep 21, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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The purpose of a cause-and-effect diagram, also known as a fishbone diagram orIshikawa diagram is to graphically document the analysis of factors (that is, causes)that relate to a single problem or opportunity (that is, effect).
Cause-and-effect diagrams are used in problem-solving situations and in generalanalysis to identify factors (that is, causes) related to a problem or opportunity (thatis, effect) to help the problem-solving or analysis team understand how those factorsmay cause the given effect, and to help the problem-solving or analysis team focuson “next steps” in process improvement.
Select a single problem or opportunity (that is, effect).
A cause-and-effectdiagram is useful for analyzing only one problem or opportunity. The problemor opportunity that is selected for analysis is documented by a keyworddescription or short narrative description placed in a rectangle or box,generally on the right side of the diagram. When analyzing more than oneproblem or opportunity, a different cause and- effect diagram is used for eachproblem or opportunity.2.
Identify the major causes of the problem or opportunity.
Cause-and-effectdiagrams have been adequately described as fishbone diagrams where majorcauses are documented as the major bones of a fish skeleton. Major causesare generally described as they relate to people, hardware/equipment, theintended operating environment, methods, and materials. Teams should beformed to brainstorm possible causes or opportunities.3.
Identify the minor causes associated with each major cause.
For each majorcause (that is, people, hardware/equipment, environment, methods, and
materials) associated with a problem or opportunity, minor causes areidentified. Identification of minor causes may be graphically described asadding more structure to the fishbone skeleton. Minor causes appeargraphically as “bones” attached to a major cause.4.
Identify additional cause structure.
The analysis continues, adding detail tothe fishbone structure until all causes associated with a problem oropportunity have been identified and documented. The analysis may continueuntil several more layers of detail have been considered and added to thediagram.
Figure 1
Figure 1 depicts a high-level cause-and-effect diagram before detailed analysis isstarted. As mentioned previously, a single problem or opportunity is identified on theright side of the graphic. Major causes are normally associated with one or more ofthe following:
People (personnel)
MaterialsMajor causes graphically represent the major bones of a fish while minor causesrepresent additional structure in the diagram. Figure generally is the starting point fora cause-and-effect analysis and, therefore, may be used as a template to help QEsbegin.Figure 2 illustrates a continuation of the example shown in Figure 1 originallyconceived by Stevenson (2000).
Figure 1
In Figure 2 we see that the effect of interest is “bus safety discrepancies.” We alsosee that the major causes of people, hardware/equipment, the intended operatingenvironment, methods, and materials have been identified. Associated with eachmajor cause are a series of supporting causes related to the major cause.In the major cause “environment,” for example, we see that “driving conditions” isa causal factor associated with bus safety discrepancies.

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