Q&A: Root Cause Analysis Using the Fishbone Diagram

We recently hosted a Facebook Live session featuring CuroGens’ CEO Jesper Kehlet, to discuss how the fishbone diagram can not only help identify the root cause of an issue but also help in developing a plan for corrective action.

During the session, we addressed many valuable questions regarding the methodology. Below, we have provided answers to these questions:


Q: Would a fishbone diagram still be useful if I’m not PMP certified or Six Sigma certified?

A: Absolutely – fishbone diagrams are extremely useful no matter what certification you have or don’t have. Ultimately, the diagram is just a very structured and logical approach to addressing problems.


Q: Who should be involved in the fishbone diagram process? All team members or only the decision makers and project managers?

A: Preferably, you would want to include all team members. However, that can be a little difficult if you have larger teams. I would suggest that you have one person from each department or individual area to look at the issue. You want people who are going to be able to think outside the box, but also be familiar with certain aspects that are involve with the issue. For instance, if it’s a database issue, you would obviously want a database administrator heavily involved.

You certainly don’t have to limit the conversation to decision makers only – while decision makers are often good at asking questions, they don’t always know the specifics of the different areas that are also involved in the process.


Q: Are there any drawbacks or limitations to a fishbone diagram?

A: The biggest limitation you run into with a fishbone diagram is how big of a whiteboard you can obtain! As you can imagine, some companies have very complex environments where there are a great deal of moving parts that could contribute to an issue. This means more “bones” being added to the diagram, making your diagram much larger and more complex.

Outside of that, the possibilities are truly endless for a fishbone diagram and the open format encourages broad-range thinking and for teams to keep adding different possibilities to steer away from “in a rut” thinking patterns.


Q: Can a fishbone diagram be used for any industry? Or is the concept specifically designed to cater to manufacturing?

A: No – you can use the fishbone diagram for any industry issue and even any department issue within the company for that matter. You can use the diagram to troubleshoot why you have slumping soft sales in your company or even why you have order or inventory issues. The possibilities are endless.


Q: Do you have any tips for teams to ensure that they are focusing on the right problem when creating a fishbone diagram and not just a symptom?

A: That’s a very good question because often times we only have symptoms to go by. The idea behind the fishbone diagram is actually to troubleshoot symptoms. We then take the symptoms and try to figure out the underlying cause of that symptom. So actually, you really do need to focus on the symptoms first and then break out what the potential underlying causes are for that particular issue to get to the root cause.


Q: Are there different variations or types of fishbone diagrams to address different issues?

A: There are different variations of the fishbone diagram and every diagram is going to look differently because some have more bones than others– but the concept remains the same amongst all the variations.


To view the original recording of CuroGens’ live event on root cause analysis using the fishbone diagram, click here or access the recording on our YouTube Channel.

Interested in learning more about our services? Contact us at learnmore@curogens.com for free product demo, or for more in-depth answers about root cause analysis, contact Jesper Kehlet directly at askjesper@curogens.com.