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SEPTEMBER 2017 The FABRICATOR 43
room to work in between the lines.
Next, label each of the four lines as
man, machine, materials, and methods—the four main topics of the fishbone diagram. Finally, write the effect
in the box.
Now start brainstorming. Pick one
of the four topics and ask the group
for ideas. Specifically, what related
to that topic (man, machine, materials, or methods) could have caused
the effect? As participants offer ideas,
write those ideas by each topic. This is
brainstorming, so do not judge and do
not go into detail.
For an idea just placed on the diagram, ask if there are any causes of
that cause (that is, a cause is an effect
of another cause). If so, draw a line below or above the first idea and write
the new idea on the line. Note how the
fishbone structure takes shape. Repeat the questioning for this idea until
there are no more responses. Then go
on to another one of the four topics.
Once you populate the fishbone diagram, ask the group to step back and
get a feel for the quantity and type of
potential causes generated. This is a
picture of all that verbal noise. Seeing
it all at once helps keep the process
Finally, ask the group to identify the
ideas that are most likely the major
causes of the effect—that is, the critical few. There should be no more than
three major areas of focus. Finally, develop a plan to dive deeply into the critical few, and get on with improvement!
A Root Cause Analysis
in a Kaizen Event
As I write this article, I happen to be
leading a kaizen event at a client. The
first day I coached the kaizen team
to reflect on the current-state analysis and how we used the 5 Whys and
the cause-and-effect diagram. Overall
feedback was positive. Almost everyone had not seen or used either of
these analysis tools.
The tools gave their problem-solving effort focus. They no longer talked
about ideas but did nothing. No longer were they sidetracked, tackling
symptoms instead of the root causes.
They focused on the critical few, and
implemented changes that made a
The Long View
Countermeasures applied to symptoms provide short-lived results … at best. Countermeasures applied to root
causes put problems to bed so they don’t come back.
Are you empowering the people in your organization
with knowledge, authority, and the expectation to be effec-
tive problem-solvers? The 5 Whys and the cause-and-effect
diagram provide a great place to start.
Jeff Sipes is principal of Back2Basics LLC, 317-439-7960, www.
back2basics-lean.com. Want to know more or have a suggestion for a future Continuous Improvement topic? Contact Sipes
at email@example.com or Senior Editor Tim Heston