The Ishikawa Diagram is a great resource for companies to analyze and discuss their problems and go after solutions.
Maybe you know him by other names. Fishbone diagram, 6M diagram or Cause and Effect diagram.
Whichever terms you are used to, it serves to identify issues that need to be worked on with some urgency by organizations.
It is a visual tool and was created a long time ago – in the 1940s.
Over the years, of course, he improved. Gaining new uses, but still an excellent corporate resource.
In this text, we’ll talk better about what the Ishikawa Diagram is and the benefits it brings to the business.
More than that, we’ll talk about how it can be built and also applied in identifying problems.
Let’s check it out?
What is Ishikawa Diagram?
As we said, this is a visual diagram. A tool used to organize the thinking of teams and help in decision making to solve problems.
When it was created, the idea of chemical engineer Kaoru Ishikawa, in 1943, was to have better quality management in his work.
And the success of this application was immediate. The graphical representation helped – and continues to help – people to get to the root of the problem.
This, consequently, increased productivity within the day-to-day activities of companies.
The reason is simple: it seeks process optimization.
What makes people work better, generating more quality in delivery and, consequently, impacting customer success.
No wonder, a common structure of the Ishikawa Diagram brings questions like: “what is the reason for this problem?”.
In companies with a well-defined organizational culture, the tool acts as a practical instrument that helps both teams and managers to identify corrections to be made.
The application, by the way, can be for both internal and external issues.
What is your purpose again?
There are many applications for this feature within organizations. It is necessary to take into account some aspects for this to be applied efficiently.
It is necessary to act, obviously, within the mission, vision and values of each business.
More than that: understand the profile of both managers and employees to understand whether it will be possible or not to be successful in this application.
That said, in general, the Cause and Effect Diagram is applied to:
- visualization of primary and secondary causes of problems;
- broadening the view of the causes of problems, providing a more efficient and comprehensive way of seeing them;
- identification of solutions, always taking into account what the company has as financial and people resources;
- optimize processes based on solutions applied over defections.
The 6M Diagram
Why is the Ishikawa Diagram also known as the 6M Diagram?
The reason takes into account the 6 different types of reasons for the problems.
- Method The way the company works;
- Machine. Problems with maintenance or very outdated machines/technology;
- Measure. Decisions taken along all types of processes within companies;
- Environment. The physical structure of the company and also how healthy the corporate environment is for people;
- Labor. The level of qualification and knowledge, both of employees, and especially of those who manage the areas;
- Material. Low level of quality of the product or service that is generated and consequently delivered to the market.
With use over the decades, one more “M” can be added. The word comes from the English: “Management”.
Its free translation refers to “management”. And, when setting up the diagram, one must take into account the way in which management of all types takes place. People, projects, customers, etc.
Of course, not all “Ms” will make sense for the top type of business. It will depend, as we said, on the employees, the way of working, the segment, among others.
But the idea is this: visually look at the problems and look for solutions together.
How to build the Fishbone Diagram?
Now that we’ve covered both what the Ishikawa Diagram is and its purpose, it’s time to get down to business.
Maybe you need to go in search of some solutions for processes that are less than satisfactory within your company.
So go to:
1 – Problem definition
Identify the most pressing problems that will be analyzed by the Ishikawa Diagram, as well as the goals and objectives to be achieved through this task.
This is no time for superficiality. It is necessary to work objectively and thoroughly. So please be clear in listing these outstanding issues.
2 – Structuring the diagram
After completing the first step, it’s time to get your hands dirty. The person responsible for assembling the Fishbone Diagram must gather all the necessary information about each problem to be worked on.
And this can happen with the writing of the problem, in a simple and visual way, to make it easier for everyone to understand and analyze.
3 – Grouping of relevant information
Through brainstorming with those responsible, the identification of the causes of the problem and possible solutions are discussed.
For this, select people directly linked to this defection, but mix with people from other teams.
It is important to bring different views that will contribute new insights for the moment.
It is then up to the person responsible for filling out the diagram to group this information in the simplest way possible – but without omitting anything.
4 – Classification of reasons
It’s time to take a deeper look at the causes. This after sorting the information, prioritizing the reasons directly linked to the problem.
After that, it’s time to make a strategic plan to act on these issues.
Also, at this point, do not forget to define those responsible for execution.
Important: Tasks performed need to be monitored. Feedback meetings for performance evaluation are essential to ensure the quality of actions.
5 – The final drawing of the Ishikawa Diagram
It’s time to complete the design taking into account that the causes need to comply with 6M.
Don’t forget to include secondary causes. of the problems. It’s not the factors that directly affect, but they also contribute to the main reasons being so important.
This way you will have a diagram with: header, effect, central axis, category, main causes, secondary causes.
- Identify urgent day-to-day problems;
- Define which issue will be primarily worked on;
- Draw an arrow, horizontally, that points to the right and make a square at the end of it;
- In this square, write the priority problem to be worked on;
- Draw diagonal lines on the body of the arrow to define the categories of the causes found for the problem;
- Then gather the responsible people. Think together about solutions and causes of problems. To do this, create an enabling environment to let ideas flow;
- Once this is done, fill in the categories with the causes of the problems that were diagnosed;
- List them according to their importance or severity;
So, thinking about 6M:
- Method. How does the way of working influence the problem?
- Machine. How does the equipment used influence the problem?
- Measure. How do existing decisions and metrics influence the issue?
- Environment. How does the physical context, the environment where everyone is inserted, influence the problem?
- Material. How does the quality of the materials, of what is delivered, influence the problem?
- Labor. How do people (their qualifications and decisions) influence the problem?
Reviewing, improving and monitoring processes need to be part of the routine
The diagram helps companies identify failures, yes. But it is necessary to implement a culture of constant improvement within organizations.
And this needs to be reflected at all times, from the entry of a new employee to the adoption of new tools, for example.
A good way to share knowledge and accelerate learning is through the application of agile methods.
Methodologies for your company
But there are also other ways to identify weaknesses and organize processes to correct any failures.
They can be applied for internal matters, but also for marketing.
- 5S Methodology – its main objective is to optimize internal processes, eliminating distractions and focusing on assertiveness in daily actions;
- SWOT Analysis – support for all types of decisions, especially marketing, as it maps existing strengths, threats, weaknesses and opportunities;
- BCG Matrix – serves to assess investment opportunities or even retreat, directing and optimizing the company’s financial resources;
- Cohort analysis – its aim is to work both on the mission of how to retain customers, and measure the impact of practices on how to attract customers.
Whatever your company’s problem, there are many ways to identify and work on them.
It can be through the Ishikawa Diagram or another method, it doesn’t matter.
The key is to always review, improve and monitor processes. This must be routine. Employees and customers are grateful.
So, how can we help you?
Enjoy and read two articles that will help you better lead teams and ensure always improved processes.
The first one talks about how to build an everyday success mindset.
The second address some existing types of leadership that are necessary for every type of company.