Using Fishbone Analysis in a Business: 7 Useful Tips

Fishbone analysis is highly beneficial for companies that can get the best from this type of diagram. Using a fishbone diagram maker is a great time-saver. It avoids trying to cobble together a solution through an add-on or something else that’ll create incompatibilities. To help businesses do more with fishbone diagrams and better analyze business situations, here are seven useful tips.

Problem, Solution, Help, Support, Information, Info
  1. Cause and Effect Analysis Is Just the Beginning

While fishbone analysis often involves cause and effect reviews, that’s only the beginning. A list of initial causes can lead to various solutions being tried. Then you can try variations on those that showed initial promise but would benefit from a revised approach. 

For the more complex business problems, expect that multiple fishbone diagrams may be required to break down even sub-causes to lower levels. With multi-layered problems, that’ll certainly be the case. 

Be prepared to chart it out as deep as it goes to get to the heart of the difficulties in search of resolution. 

  1. Include Everyone Necessary

Depending on the business problem or the analysis required, include as many people as needed. Don’t discount the contributions that those at the mid-level or lower level within the business can provide. Sometimes, their perspective is differentiated enough to inform in a way that upper-level managers are no longer able to do. Depending on the situation, that may be appropriate. 

  1. Verify Who Has Used Fishbone Diagrams Before

Sometimes everyone has seen, interacted with, and contributed to fishbone diagrams. Other times, there are gaps in the knowledge that should be filled in. When you send out a request to access a shared fishbone diagram and contribute to it, be sure to include a training video walkthrough and/or a written document to explain how they’re used. Doing so avoids a manager or new contributor being unfamiliar and not wanting to look less intelligent by needing to ask. 

  1. Create a Free Sharing Environment

Businesses can suffer from people not feeling comfortable with sharing their thoughts because they’ve previously been quickly dismissed, or worse, ridiculed. This kind of culture won’t help when staff members need to perform an analysis of a business problem and freely share suggestions that might help. At that point, this type of culture bites them back. 

The CEO or senior manager who finds this is the case needs to progressively work to change this aspect of the work culture. This needs to be forcefully done with positive encouragement and praise. Also, the CEO should speak strongly to anyone found to be dismissive of other people’s ideas. Furthermore, instructions to all managers to take the same approach will gradually change how employees treat each other.  

The result of the switch will be more productive meetings and business analysis with high-quality ideas that are freely contributed. It won’t happen overnight, but it will strongly aid a struggling business in seeing both operational problems and infighting. 

  1. Be Clear on Objectives from the Start

It is easy for the objective and purpose of a diagram to change once multiple people get involved in a discussion about it. Just like with a company meeting and its agenda, keep the focus tightly on what the fishbone diagram is aiming to achieve. Ensuring the information added to the diagram is relevant and doesn’t reflect mixed signals. Also, the long-held personal agendas of certain managers shouldn’t reach the diagram. Otherwise, it will taint the process and the value of the business analysis. 

  1. Don’t Be Afraid to Start Over

Initial exploration of a business concern may go off on a tangent. When this happens, it looks into one side of the issue and misses the big picture. Don’t be afraid to create a new diagram and start over. This will retain the original diagram and the information contained therein but redirect attention to the bigger concerns. Where it’s beneficial, create fishbone diagrams for each major cause or sub-cause to explore these in greater detail. For smaller operations, this may be overkill, but for major corporations, the operational complexity may require this. 

  1. Mix in Other Diagrams and Charts, As Needed

Fishbone diagrams are valuable, but they’re not a Swiss Army Knife business solution to every problem. Appreciate the value of using a mix of different diagrams and charts as needed. This will allow you to perform effective business analysis and include useful supplementary information too. In doing so, it can make the point stronger. 

By using fishbone analysis, stubborn business issues can find quick solutions that previously alluded the management team. If the business isn’t currently using these types of diagrams, then it’s worthwhile suggesting that they do so by listing some of their benefits.