Fishbone Diagram Template – How To Create a Fishbone Diagram

Fishbone diagrams combine brainstorming and mind mapping to discover the cause-and-effect relationship of a specific problem. It encourages you to look at all the possible causes of an issue rather than considering only the most obvious ones. It will help you spot the root cause of a problem and discover the blockages in your processes and identify the areas where the process is not working out. To understand how a Fishbone diagram achieves these benefits, you first need to understand the intricacies of the fishbone diagram template. 

A Fishbone Diagram has four basic steps.

1. Clarify the Issue.

When initially filling out your fishbone diagram, the first thing you should do is write down and agree upon the exact issue you are facing. Your team must determine:

  • Who is involved
  • What the problem is
  • Why, when, and where it occurs

After that, use an online whiteboard to write the underlying problem statement in a box on the right-hand side of the board and draw a horizontal line extending left from the problem. The problem statement is meant to look like the head of the fish, and the horizontal line resembles the spine, providing room to ideate possible causes. 

2. Brainstorm the major categories of causes.

The second step focuses on categorizing the causes of the underlying problem, such as the possible factors that contribute to the overall issue. These factors may include equipment, materials, systems, people, and external forces. 

When identifying each cause, draw a line off the fish’s spine for each factor and name each line at the top. These lines represent the ribs of the fish and help distinguish the various categories where causes can be found. 

3. Identify all the possible causes.

The third step starts off the brainstorming session as the possible causes of the problem are identified. These possible causes are visualized as branches from the ribs of the fish. There are usually multiple shorter causal branches within each category. In a more complex scenario, you can draw smaller sub-branches to create a causal chain of events. One by one, you can see the fish’s skeleton is beginning to fill up slowly.

4. Analyze the Fishbone Diagram.

After completing the first three steps, you will have a complete fishbone Diagram presenting all the possible causes of the problem statement. With the help of using tools such as a virtual whiteboard, surveys, and investigations, you can create a detailed breakdown of the underlying problem and conduct a complete analysis of the potential causes of the pain.

Tips for Creating Fishbone a Diagram

  •  Organize a qualified team for the task of creating a fishbone diagram
  •  Explain the main cause categories
  •  Brainstorm multiple possible causes for each category and break them down individually 
  •  Consider implementing a voting process


While the fishbone diagram template is not the most complicated tool in the world, it can be beneficial to help teams solve complex problems. If this article helped you, check out our other content surrounding the advantages of using a fishbone diagram template.


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