What are some major advantages and disadvantages of Fish-bone diagrams?

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pohnpei397's profile pic

Posted on

The major advantage of a fishbone diagram (also known as an Ishikawa diagram) is that it can be of great help in a situation where a person or team of people is trying to determine the cause of some problem.  The major advantage is that a fishbone diagram helps the team by providing a convenient and easily understood way of thinking of and listing possible causes of the problem that is being faced.  The team comes up with basic sources of possible problems (like machines, work methods, or measurement) and then brainstorms, trying to think of what aspects of these sources could possibly be causing the problem.

The major disadvantage is simply that it doesn't solve any problems.  It can only help in identifying possible causes of problems and does not offer any possible solutions or any analysis of the likelihood that a given cause is the real one.  In addition, it is not very good at pointing out which of the possible causes is most likely or most important.  Graphically speaking, it makes all possible causes look equally plausible and equally important.

herappleness's profile pic

Posted on

An excellent tool for brainstorming in all fields of study, the "fish bone" diagram is a graphic organizer used to analyze cause and effect.


Since causes and effects are not always simple, their ramifications and origins are studied using the diagram. Doing this helps to extrapolate the real causative factors that lead to an event to take place. Similarly, the consequences of such event are also isolated and categorized if needed. 

Another benefit is that, from understanding these factors, you can get to solutions faster especially if you are studying the organizer as a team. 

The fishbone starts by stating the problem in the form of a question. This is what goes at the beginning of the chart, where the fish's "head" would be.The best way is to make it into a "why" question 


Business - Why are our sales decreasing?

Education- Why did only 30% of my students pass the last test?

Marketing- Why did so many people like the last bubble gum campaign?

These are examples of questions that help move the discussion forward into the rest of the chart. 


While there are no disadvantages in using a graphic organizer per se, the appropriate use of it is what makes it worth while. Moreover, the fishbone works best when it is completed by a team. If the team does not agree on the central "why" question, or if the "why" question is not the question that should be analyzed, then the organizer will never really solve any problems. 


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