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.