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Free Printable Fishbone Diagram Templates [Word, Excel, PDF]

    The fishbone diagram is an excellent way to look at different types of problems and create solutions. It helps teams capture ideas in the best way possible and stimulate discussion. The Fishbone Diagram is used to identify the root cause of a problem.

    We make it easy for anyone in your team to contribute their thoughts and reduce work associated with brainstorming sessions while encouraging everyone to think out of the box.

    What is Fishbone Diagram (Ishikawa)?

    Fishbone Diagram
    Fishbone Diagram

    Problems are the result of one or more root causes. Problems can be resolved by finding and eliminating root causes. Brainstorming sessions can identify possible root causes, but this is not a systematic method.

    Using a Fishbone Diagram, Ishikawa diagram, or cause and effect diagram, it is possible to perform a thorough cause and effect analysis and identify the root causes of problems. This root cause analysis method was developed by Japanese scientist Kaoru Ishikawa, who discovered that many factors could affect a business process through his work at Kawasaki Heavy Industries.

    He designed a simple graphical tool with an organized representation of potential root causes to gain insight into these factors. Because this root cause analysis model is similar to a fishbone, the Ishikawa diagram is also called a Fishbone Diagram or Cause and Effect Analysis. Initially, the diagram was designed for manufacturing processes and accompanying quality control. Today, the Ishikawa diagram is also used in other industries.

    Fishbone Diagram Templates

    Fishbone diagram templates, also known as Ishikawa diagrams or cause-and-effect diagrams, are visual tools used to identify and analyze the root causes of a problem or issue. These templates provide a structured framework for organizing and categorizing potential causes based on different factors, such as people, process, equipment, materials, and environment.

    The diagram resembles the shape of a fishbone, with the main problem or effect placed at the head and the potential causes branching out like the fish’s bones. Fishbone diagram templates allow individuals or teams to visually map out the contributing factors that may be leading to a problem, facilitating a comprehensive analysis and enabling effective problem-solving. By using these templates, individuals can gain a deeper understanding of the root causes behind an issue and develop targeted solutions to address them.

    What Is a Fishbone Diagram Used For?

    To see together the different ideas that arise while working as a team.

    • When identifying possible causes of a problem.
    • When thoughts start to get monotonous during brainstorming.
    • A fishbone diagram can be used when there are difficulties in establishing a cause-effect relationship.

    Fishbone Diagram Procedure

    All the causes that create the problem are caused by some source of change. Causes are often divided into main categories to identify these sources. And these categories mostly include the following.

    Human: The people involved in the process.

    Methods/Methods: How the process is run and specific requirements such as policies, procedures, rules, regulations, laws

    Machines: Equipment, computers, tools, etc. devices that get work done

    Materials: Raw materials, parts, pens, paper, etc. used to produce the final product of the type

    Measurements: Process-generated data used to evaluate the quality

    Environment: Conditions such as place, time, temperature, and culture in which the process operates

       First of all, the relevant quality element whose causes will be investigated is written on the far right of the graph. Then, the main and sub-reasons are added to the chart, and the diagram is completed. While investigating these reasons, the opinion of as many experts and experts as possible should be sought. This brainstorming is inevitable to capture reality.

    • It is mainly used with Pareto analysis. In this way, essential characteristics for the relevant situation are first determined. Then, by working on this characteristic, the causes are investigated.

    How to Use the Fishbone Diagram?

    The method and diagram are created in 5 stages.

    • Identifying the Problem
    • Choosing Root Causes
    • Evaluate All Causes
    • Evaluating Subheadings of Reasons
    • Completing the Missing Parts
    • Step 1: Identifying the Problem

    A piece of paper or blackboard is taken, and a straight line is drawn from left to right. The main problem is determined by brainstorming within the group. This identified problem is written at the end of the line as the head of the fish and framed around it.

    Step 2: Selecting the Root Causes

    Brainstorming is done about the main causes of the problem, and the main topics to be used in the diagram are determined. The main reasons chosen are written as headings over the arrows drawn at 45-degree angles around the horizontal arrow. Generally, at this stage, the type of titles you will see below are preferred.

    • Methods
    • Equipment
    • Human power
    • materials
    • Measurement
    • environment etc.

    Step 3: Evaluate All Causes

    All possible causes of the problem are considered, and a cause-effect relationship is established between them. Basically, “Why did such a situation arise?” search for an answer to the question. New ideas that emerge are written under the appropriate title in the fishbone diagram.

    Step 4: Identifying the Subtitles of the Causes

    The main reasons we identified were “Why did this problem occur?” are asked separately, and sub-headings are determined. Branching out the causes and subdividing them into subheadings helps us think more deeply and make effective analyses.

    Step 5: Completing the Missing Parts

    After the data is transferred to the diagram, it should be reviewed. If there are reasons that are not mentioned under the subheadings, it may be necessary to focus on them and produce new ideas. This step allows us to consider the fishbone diagram as a whole and to notice any points we missed if any.

    What are the benefits of a fishbone diagram?

    • By making the problem-solving process more organized, it ensures that no problems go unnoticed.
    • Provides analytical thinking and effective problem-solving skills.
    • With the fishbone diagram, a problem is handled from various aspects, and the fixed point of view is avoided.
    • Increases creative thinking skills.
    • Develops the ability to analyze and synthesize.
    • While brainstorming, it allows one to focus directly on the problem and not deviate from the subject.


    This fishbone diagram template is a simple yet effective way to visually organize the brainstorming session on a topic or subject. It helps you to see all the factors involved in a single event, hence enabling you to identify the root cause quickly. With this easy-to-edit tool, you can take an existing fishbone diagram template and make modifications easily to suit your requirements.


    Is there a fishbone diagram template?

    Yes, there are many free fishbone diagram templates available online. These provide the basic fishbone structure which you can then customize by adding your own categories and labels. Templates are available for Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and other programs.

    How do I create a fishbone diagram?

    Start with the problem on the right. Add main cause categories as branches from the spine. Identify factors for each category and add as smaller side arrows. Link related causes with additional arrows. Add visual elements. Review to ensure major factors are covered.

    Can you create a fishbone diagram in Word?

    Yes, Word has built-in fishbone templates under SmartArt. You can add text to the diagram boxes to customize it. Shapes and arrows can also be used to create a fishbone diagram from scratch in Word.

    What color scheme is typically used for a fishbone diagram?

    The problem or effect is usually shown in red. Cause categories are often in blue, green, or another color. Cause labels are normally black text. This color coding visually distinguishes the different elements.

    What are some tips for making a fishbone diagram effective?

    Ensure the main categories cover all potential causes. Brainstorm details for each branch. Use concise text for labels. Add visual indicators like arrows to show relationships. Review for completeness and clarity. Emphasize the most critical factors.

    When would I use a fishbone diagram?

    Fishbone diagrams are used in quality management to visualize the causes of problems. They help identify root causes by mapping out the many factors which contribute to an effect. They are an effective tool for problem-solving and continuous improvement processes.

    What are the 6 parts of the fishbone diagram?

    The 6 key parts of a fishbone diagram are:

    1. Problem Statement – The issue being examined
    2. Cause Categories – Typically 4-6 branches listing factor categories
    3. Cause Labels – More detailed causes/factors attached to each branch
    4. Side Arrows – Used to indicate interrelationships between causes
    5. Arrowheads – Point to the problem statement
    6. Background – Visual details like the fish skeleton and arrows
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    Betina Jessen

    Betina Jessen

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