A cause and effect diagram examines why something happened or might happen by organizing potential causes into smaller categories. It can also be useful for showing relationships between contributing factors. One of the Seven Basic Tools of Quality, it is often referred to as a fishbone diagram or Ishikawa diagram.
One of the reasons cause & effect diagrams are also called fishbone diagrams is because the completed diagram ends up looking like a fish's skeleton with the fish head to the right of the diagram and the bones branching off behind it to the left.
To begin making a cause and effect diagram, write the main issue or problem to be analyzed in a box that is typically on the right edge of the page, halfway down the drawing area or page. A line called the "spine" or "backbone" should extend to the left starting from the edge of the main box (if you're using a SmartDraw template, this will already be there for you). Next, angle branches off of the spine, each representing a cause or effect of the main issue. Each of these branches can contain additional branches.
Most cause and effect diagrams examine a similar set of possible causes for any issue analyzed.
In the manufacturing industry, these are referred to as the 6Ms:
Occasionally, a manufacturing analysis will also include two other categories: Management and Maintenance.
In the service industry, these are described as the 4S:
Occasionally, a fifth category will be included called "Safety".
In the marketing industry, cause and effect diagrams will often consist of 7Ps:
SmartDraw makes creating cause and effect diagrams easy with built-in smart templates that let you add new causes in a single click and format your diagram automatically. Learn how by reading this cause and effect chart tutorial.
These are the best and most common practices when creating cause and effect diagrams.
The best way to understand cause and effect diagrams is to look at some examples of cause and effect diagrams.
Click on any of these cause and effect diagrams included in SmartDraw and edit them:
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