Cause and Effect Analysis

Video Transcript

Learn how to use Cause and Effect Analysis to solve problems, in this short video.

Cause and Effect Analysis is a technique that helps you identify all the likely causes of a problem. This means that you can find and fix the main cause, first time around, without the problem running on and on.

The diagrams you create with this type of analysis are sometimes known as fishbone diagrams, because they look like the skeleton of a fish. The technique was developed by Professor Ishikawa in the 1960s.

To solve a problem with this technique, write down your problem in a box on the left-hand side of a piece of paper. Then draw a straight line from the box to the other side of the paper.

Once you've written down the problem, draw several lines that extend out from your long horizontal line. You're now going to brainstorm all of the factors that could be contributing to this problem. These may be systems, equipment, materials, external forces, people involved with the problem, and so on.

In this example, which looks at the issue of high staff turnover, the possible factors are management, the working environment, training and development, the corporate culture, and pay.

When you've brainstormed possible factors, draw several horizontal lines that extend outward from each one. You're now going to brainstorm possible causes of the problem, related each factor.

In this example, possible causes could be that managers micromanage their teams. They may not spend enough time on site. Or, they may not provide team members with the guidance they need to do their jobs effectively.

You repeat this for each of the factors that you identified in the last step, until you've identified all possible causes of the problem. From here, you can review all of these to identify the most likely cause.

Now, read the article that accompanies this video to learn more about Cause and Effect Analysis.

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Comments (2)
  • Over a month ago James wrote
    Hi Everyone

    We’ve given this popular article a review, and the updated version is now at:
    http://www.mindtools.com/community/pages/article/newTMC_03.php

    Discuss the article by replying to this post!

    Thanks

    James
  • Over a month ago Yolande wrote
    I loved this article because it is all too easy to get caught up in a maelstrom of thoughts about the problem, without doing any constructive thinking about the causes and solutions. Apart from being a great tool to use in a work setup, the fishbone analysis can also help us in our personal lives to get clarity about the causes of certain problems and how to avoid that in future.

    Kind regards
    Yolandé