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Problem Solving: Cause and Effect

One tool that can be helpful when problem solving is the Cause and Effect diagram, also known as a fishbone diagram, (Kaoru Ishikawa 1968)

This tool provides a systematic approach to problem solving and can be used to generate ideas for several potential causes, leading to identification of the key root cause.

It allows teams to look at issues from different perspectives and can help overcome conflicting views.

The backbone (central arrow) represents the problem or the effect, with the body of the skeleton representing the causes which can be broken down further to get to the real root cause.

Fishbone Diagram Example


Click the DOWNLOAD button to access the Problem Solving Cause and Effect template.



Hints & Tips

  • This is a useful exercise to carry out within a workshop using a whiteboard or flip chart.​
  • It helps to be specific with the problem that is to be addressed.​
  • The causes can be broken down as much as is required.​