• The Tailed Fishbone: A Tool to Improve Your Methodology at Getting to Root Cause

The Tailed Fishbone: A Tool to Improve Your Methodology at Getting to Root Cause


Mark Adams, Director Engineering Services, Flex Ltd, Louisville, KY, USA


Root Cause, Facilitation





Is 5-Why leading you down a rabbit trail? Are your Fishbone diagrams so cluttered that trying to solve for all those contributing factors is slowing down and/or over complicating your initiative? Perhaps it takes so long to conduct root cause analysis that it is now a chore versus the strategic tool it can be to create your competitive advantage.

Root Cause Analysis doesn’t have to be so complicated. Although there are many paths one can take as they start to ask “Why’ this problem exists, being able to facilitate the discussion and avoid rabbit holes is key. Therefore, I designed a new method at conducting Root Cause Analysis that allows team to achieve a few different objectives.

First, using the Tailed Fishbone methodology will clean up your thinking process. By maintaining the Fishbone (AKA Ishikawa diagram) as your baseline, and then continuing the brainstorming process through additional tools sets, your team will be able to avoid pitfalls, and create a natural pathway to discovery of the root cause.

Second, by focusing on the root cause versus contributing factors only, your action plans will be reduced heavily so engagement can be achieved and results seen quicker, and with much less effort. This will allow your initiatives to be done at a much cheaper rate, with larger impacts, and a more engaged workforce aiding in both the implementation and perpetuation of your continuous improvement initiatives.

Third, this methodology is easy to learn and to lead. Typically, Root Cause Analysis was either done too quick and not gotten to the root cause, or taken too long, and got to too many causes. Both could be contributed to the experience level of the facilitator. However, with this tool, it provides a common roadmap for any leader engaging a team in Root Cause Analysis. This roadmap makes the facilitation both easier and more effective. A typical Root Cause Analysis brainstorming session using the Tailed Fishbone methodology can be achieved in an hour or less.

Finally, the Tailed Fishbone allows a team to validate their thought process before they ever implement a single solution as the tool allows the team to check their work before moving on with their improvement initiative. Therefore, join me as I showcase the Tailed Fishbone Root Cause Analysis Tool and improve your methods at getting to Root Cause.