Ishikawa: How to identify a Root Cause

By 08/03/2020March 17th, 2020No Comments

What is Ishikawa, and what difference will it make to my warehouse?

Ishikawa, or the Fishbone diagram, is a simple tool that allows us to locate the true source of problems and issues that arise in our daily circumstances. It helps us to see beyond the immediate cause of a consequence, and to identify the true cause, or root, of the underlying issue.

Packaging Downtime

How to Create a Fishbone Diagram

Fishbone diagrams are made up of 5 key elements;

  • Manpower – People and their attitudes, skills, training, collaboration, trust, and commitment.
  • Machinery – this includes computers, phones, cameras, tools, etc.
  • Materials – including data, parts, reports, raw materials
  • Methods – consider all tasks, as well as formal and informal pratices
  • Environment – Consider space, workflow, light, colours, temperature etc.

By arranging these elements into the below diagram, it will show us the realtionship between the ‘effect’ or problem and all the possible causes from the 5 key areas.

By now, we can see a clear visual connection between all the possible causes of the issues and the issue itself.

Apply Ishikawa to your business

Download the diagram on the link below, and pick out an issue in your business or department that you’d like to rectify.

Ishikawa Diagram


It’s important when using the Ishikawa diagram that you apply each of the categories in their broadest sense. Refer back to the bullet points above if you’re unsure what to include and what not to include.

Next up: Beyond Ishikawa

How to use the Five Whys and Systems Thinking to drill further into possible causes of identified issues…