Fishbone Problem Solving

Fishbone Problem Solving-35
To ensure that folks are addressing the right problem, and to help validate that a Problem Analysis is even a necessary next step, employing the 5 WHY technique can be a productive exercise.

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However, sensibly there will only be one true cause that comes out of the analysis.

To minimize wasting time testing false causes and to prevent making the problem potentially worse, KT Problem Analysis would have teams take each individual “bone” and test the theory against the problem data, asking “IF this is the cause, then how does it explain the facts”?

Typically, a fishbone breaks possible causes down into various categories, some of which may include “materials, personnel, methods, machines, environment, measures, etc.” Using the problem specification that came out of step 1, combined with the fishbone logic, teams can probe possible causes around some of those categories listed above.

Using the fishbone at this point may help folks to brainstorm possible causes that might seem more sensible given what they know about the problem.

Here is where the fishbone diagram (or Ishikawa) should logically come into play.

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A fishbone diagram is an artifact that provides a visual representation of possible causes to a problem.A core component of step 1 is creating a Problem Statement that names the symptom to be solved, revolving around the entity experiencing the problem and the specific problem that it has.Identifying the Problem Statement sometimes proves to be the most challenging aspect of Problem Analysis, as having the wrong Problem Statement can throw the remainder of the analysis entirely off track.By Michel Barna, Kepner-Tregoe When it comes to problem-solving, two common techniques I see many clients using (or attempting to use) are “5 Why’s” and “fishbone diagrams”.It is important to note that these tools have a place and purpose, however, what’s also important is to ensure that, if your team is using them, they are doing so in a way that makes logical sense and is adding value.The output of thoroughly completing Step 1 in Problem Analysis is a factual description of the problem.The next step is to use this problem description, which in KT is known as a “specification”, to identify and subsequently to test possible causes.When have you experienced personnel testing multiple causes simultaneously? It is highly tempting to dive right into evaluating causes at the beginning of an investigation, but this becomes counterproductive when teams do this without having a thorough description of what their problem is.Moreover, investigating a myriad of causes concurrently can introduce many changes into the process, possibly creating new symptoms that could cloud the initial event that occurred.If we’ve done this 5 WHY assessment and have gotten down to the point of not completely understanding “why”, KT would then ask a third follow-up question to confirm next steps, which is “Do we need to know why to take effective, meaningful action”?In some cases, the answer to this question may be a clear “no”.

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