Cause and Effect Diagram

Institute for Healthcare Improvement
Boston, Massachusetts, USA

A cause and effect diagram, also known as an Ishikawa or "fishbone" diagram, is a graphic tool used to explore and display the possible causes of a certain effect. Use the classic fishbone diagram when causes group naturally under the categories of Materials, Methods, Equipment, Environment, and People. Use a process-type cause and effect diagram to show causes of problems at each step in the process.

A cause and effect diagram has a variety of benefits:
  • It helps teams understand that there are many causes that contribute to an effect.
  • It graphically displays the relationship of the causes to the effect and to each other.
  • It helps to identify areas for improvement.

Featured Videos
Cause and Effect Diagram
Robert Lloyd, IHI Vice President, uses his trusty whiteboard to dissect the science of improvement. In short videos, he breaks down everything from Deming's System of Profound Knowledge, to the PDSA cycle, to run charts.
The Science of Improvement on a Whiteboard!
Dr. Robert Lloyd, Vice President at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, explains the key elements of the Science of Improvement using a white board in these short videos.

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