skip to Main Content

They are often used in tandem. First you can brainstorm potential root causes and then “affinitize” them into groups. Those groups can then become the bones of a fishbone and you can both spread out the potential root causes on the “bones” and start using the 5 Whys on select issues. The idea is to do some “structured” brainstorming, and the “bones” or categories of the fish create that structure.

Elisabeth Swan

Elisabeth is a Managing Partner at, the co-author of The Problem-Solver’s Toolkit and co-host of the Just-in-Time Cafe. 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.