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Fishbone Analysis

My friend Ralph taught me how to do a Fishbone Analysis recently (it had been invented by Dr. Kaoru Ishikawa).

You can use the Fishbone process to help you figure out how to best achieve an objective, including how to prioritize the individual items which together are needed to meet your objective.

Fishbone Analysis Example

Let’s say that you determine that you need to grow the number of visits to a Web site/page from 500 per month to 20,000 per month by year-end.

First, you go through the six things that prevent you from getting that objective done.  These are called the six “M’s” because each starts with the letter “M” to make it easier to remember.

The six “M’s” that prevent you from getting anything done are:

  1. Manpower — The people resources you need.
  2. Methods — The processes you need.
  3. Metrics — The measurements you need.
  4. Machines — The automation or technology you need.
  5. Materials — The material items (such as physical goods or marketing collateral) you need.
  6. Minutes — The time you need.

Now, it’s called a fishbone because you draw a line (the fish’s spine) with three diagonal lines on each side (which look like bones) and it looks like a fish (see my sloppy image above).

Example of The Six “M’s” of Fishbone

So, back to the Fishbone example of getting your traffic to 20,000 visits per month.

Go through the six “M” categories and for each one answer the question: “What things within each category are preventing me from getting to my goal (e.g. to 20,000 Web site visits per month).

  • Manpower
    • You need a person on staff who can can be the driver of more traffic to your Web site (see my DACI article on the importance of a “driver.”
    • You need access to someone familiar with HTML.
  • Methods
  • Metrics
    • You need to know the definition of a Web site visit.
    • You need to confirm that you’re actually receiving 500 visits per month right now (because you’re confused about Web site traffic)
  • Machines
    • You need analytics software to measure Web site traffic.
  • Materials
    • You need content on your Web site to attract visitors.
    • You need to figure out if the Internet domain name you’re using is the right one.
  • Minutes
    • The key people who would work on this project don’t have any free time.

Fishbone Ranking

You then take each of the sub-items (in my case I made it simple and there are only 9 (usually you’d have 20 to 30) and list them out and do a Fishbone Ranking of them.

The ranking approach Ralph suggested is to do a 1 to 10 on the impact, resources needed and time that each item will take where:

10 is high Impact (1 is low)

10 is low Resources Needed (1 is high resources)

10 is low amount of Time it will take (1 is a lot of time)

  • You need a person on staff who can can be the driver of more traffic to your Web site (see my DACI article on the importance of a “driver.”
    • Impact = 8 (a new “driver” of this project will have huge impact towards reaching your goal)
    • Resources Needed = 2 (a new driver will require a lot of money to hire)
    • Amount of Time = 7 (you can hire a new driver of this project fairly quickly)
    • Total = 17 (8 + 2 +7)
  • You need access to someone familiar with HTML.
    • Impact = 6
    • Resources = 5
    • Time = 5
    • Total = 16
  • You need to understand how you will be increasing Web traffic
    • Impact = 9
    • Resources = 8
    • Time = 4
    • Total = 21
  • You need to know the definition of a Web site visit.
    • Impact = 5
    • Resources = 10
    • Time = 10
    • Total = 25
  • You need to confirm that you’re actually receiving 500 visits per month right now (because you’re confused about Web site traffic)
    • Impact = 2
    • Resources = 7
    • Time = 6
    • Total = 16
  • You need analytics software to measure Web site traffic.
    • Impact = 6
    • Resources = 9
    • Time = 8
    • Total = 23
  • You need content on your Web site to attract visitors.
    • Impact = 10
    • Resources = 1
    • Time = 2
    • Total = 13
  • You need to figure out if the Internet domain name you’re using is the right one.
    • Impact = 5
    • Resources = 7
    • Time = 7
    • Total = 19

Priorities Come Out of the Fishbone Ranking

So, now you list them out in order of highest score first:

25 = You need to know the definition of a Web site visit.

23 = You need analytics software to measure Web site traffic.

21 = You need to understand how you will be increasing Web traffic

19 = You need to figure out if the Internet domain name you’re using is the right one.

17 = You need a person on staff who can can be the driver of more traffic to your Web site (see my DACI article on the importance of a “driver.”

16 = You need access to someone familiar with HTML.

16 = You need to confirm that you’re actually receiving 500 visits per month right now (because you’re confused about Web site traffic)

13 = You need content on your Web site to attract visitors.

And, voila, this may be the order you need to do those items.

For those who really like fishbone brainstorming, you can take any of those individual items and do an entire new fishbone JUST on that item.

If you want to learn more about the man behind Fishbones, click here for a Kaoru Ishikawa biography

If you like this article, you will probably also like this article I wrote on the SWOT Analysis tool.

12 Comments

  • http://jazzpresentation.com/5-steps-to-build-a-fishbone-diagram/ Snehan

    Its a very nice article. The beauty of the fishbone diagram is that it can be used for any organization (irrespective of their size) to identify the causes and effects

  • http://jazzpresentation.com/5-steps-to-build-a-fishbone-diagram/ Snehan

    Its a very nice article. The beauty of the fishbone diagram is that it can be used for any organization (irrespective of their size) to identify the causes and effects

  • http://jazzpresentation.com/5-steps-to-build-a-fishbone-diagram/ Snehan

    Its a very nice article. The beauty of the fishbone diagram is that it can be used to for any organization irrespective of their size to identify the causes and effects

  • Neha. k

    IT WOULD HAVE WORKED BETTER WITH A GOOD DIAGRAM

  • Neha. k

    IT WOULD HAVE WORKED BETTER WITH A GOOD DIAGRAM

  • http://robdkelly.com/getting-things-done/gap-analysis/ 5 Simple Steps On How To Do A Gap Analysis | Rob Kelly

    [...] I recommend using the “6 M’s” from my Fishbone Analysis Article: [...]

  • http://twitter.com/nitinma Nitin Malhotra

    Good article…especially like the concept of ranking explained here.
    Keep it up.

    Nitin Malhotra

  • oQ

    Good article. I agree with Neha, you need to have a diagram for the visual readers. Xmind is great tool to conduct such an analysis and best of all, it’s free!

  • Asha Singhal

    What is the first team activity to prepare a fishbone ?
    Pl reply quickly

  • http://www.robdkelly.com Rob Kelly

    I’m not sure exacty what you mean, Asha, but my best answer is that your first activity to prepare for a fishbone should be for your team to identify an objective of yours that you would like to increase your success at achieving.

    Write back if that doesn’t answer your question. Otherwise, best of luck!

  • http://www.robdkelly.com Rob Kelly

    I finally added a simple hand-drawn diagram, Neha. Hope you enjoy it.

  • Michelle

    seems tricky……:”(