Visualizing why

When setting out goals or identifying problems it’s often helpful to get to the root cause of the reasons. The 5 Whys technique is an excellent way that can help teams uncover these underlying root causes. Asking why often will lead to a curious and thoughtful mindset. One that is really helpful in discovery.

However, there are often times when there are different root causes to consider. In these cases, the Fishbone diagram or, it’s official title, the Ishikawa diagram is a good way to group different causal relationships. It’s called a Fishbone because it looks like a fish.

  • The head is a problem statement or goal that is connected to a spine.
  • Coming off the spine are a number of bones that are groupings of problems that lead to each root cause
  • On each bone, you define the different Why statements until you reach the root cause.

It’s an incredibly simple way to align people and create understanding.

Fishbone diagram

Here is an example.


Write out a current goal or problem you’re working on a board and use the Fishbone technique to work with your team to visualize each of root causes.


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