Virtual brainstorming is hard. It relies on people working together in sync. The team needs to be able to contribute an collaborate at the same time.
The fishbone diagram is a cause and effect brainstorming method. The fishbone diagram is also known as the Ishikawa diagram (named after its inventor, Japanese quality control expert Kaoru Ishikawa). It is easily one of the most effective tools to identify cause and effect when combined with the 5 whys. It helps people to quickly identify the root cause and stop guessing.
The fishbone diagram can be considered as a cause and effect mindmap, as it groups possible areas of the problem. It then helps teams easily visualize where all the possible causes could be leading to the problem. To breakdown and get further causes using the 5 whys approach with the fishbone diagram is highly recommended.
The 3 steps to working on a fishbone diagram are as follows:
Use 5 Whys to systematically dig deeper and uncover new potential causes.
You have started by creating as many branches as you see fit all could be categories of the possible problem. The next step is to use the 5 whys to ask. The 5 whys help the team think of new causes. Then you ask why is this causing the problem and as you keep asking why you are creating links on the branch. It should come to a conclusion typically after 5 whys.
Virtual brainstorming is hard. It relies on people working together in sync. You don’t have a whiteboard as you would normally have to have people openly put up postits and feel like they can actively contribute. Using Google Hangouts or zoom meetings are good but for a facilitator, it can be very difficult to squeeze ideas out of people. We previously discussed how you can use ice breakers for virtual meetings to get people engaged but what is the next step to continue engagement?
You can create fishbones with PowerPoint and share your screen looking for inputs but it’s really just one person driving the conversation and lacks engagement you would get in real life.
The solution is to use virtual whiteboard tools such as miro. You can see the people interacting with the diagram below. One of my favourite features is actually seeing peoples name as they interact so you can discuss on the zoom meeting while the person is making the changes.
This works really, especially when you are writing out effects using the 5 why method mentioned above.
The fishbone diagram is one of the Seven Basic Tools of Quality – 7 QC Tools. This would be the first place I would check if I felt the fishbone diagram wasn’t exactly what I was looking for to help identify issues. Different circumstances require different tools.
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