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What is a Fishbone Diagram or Cause & Effect Diagram?

A Cause & Effect Diagram is a structured brainstorming tool designed to assist an improvement team in listing potential causes of a specific effect. It is also known as an Ishikawa Diagram, for its creator, or a Fishbone Diagram, for its resemblance to the bones of a fish.

Causes are often grouped into major categories, which are classically defined as the 6 Ms: Man/Mind Power (people), Methods (processes), Machines (technology), Materials (raw materials, information, consumables), Measurements (inspection), and Milieu/Mother Nature (environment). An additional 2 Ms are also sometimes used: Management/Money Power and Maintenance.

This tool is used in tandem with The 5 Whys.

Fishbone Diagram (Cause & Effect Diagram) Template


For a better understanding of the Fishbone Diagram and an overview of Lean Six Sigma, check out our 5 Whys & Fishbone Diagram Training, Green Belt Training or Lean Training.


Elisabeth Swan

Elisabeth is a Managing Partner & Executive Advisor at For over 25 years, she's helped leading organizations like Amazon, Charles Schwab and Starwood Hotels & Resorts build problem-solving muscles with Lean Six Sigma to achieve their goals.
  • Vikrant

    Thank you for this template 🙂