Description The cause and effect diagram graphically represents the relationships between a problem (effect) and its possible causes. The development process is started in a group session led by a trained facilitator. The problem is stated in terms acceptable to the group. Possible causes are listed. The group then assigns priorities to the causes and action plans are developed.
When a cause and effect diagram is constructed, thinking is stimulated, thoughts are organized, and discussions are begun. These discussions bring out many possible viewpoints on the subject. Once all participants reach a similar level of understanding about an issue, an expansion of ideas can then be examined.
Cause and effect diagrams are developed in a form, commonly referred to as "fish," where the effect is found in a box to the right which is the head of the fish. The bones of the fish show the organized causes. The effects and causes can be expressed in words or data.
Application Cause and effect diagrams are used to examine many different topics which include the following:
The cause and effect diagram is useful in examining processes such as SPC, and SPC problems. The technique is also useful in planning activities and brainstorming. The diagram is basically a controlled way of gathering and using suggestions through group consensus.
Procedures A cause and effect diagram is developed in the following manner:
Limitations The development of the cause and effect diagram can be time-consuming in order to arrive at a group consensus.
Source: System Engineering "Toolbox" for Design-Oriented Engineers, Sec 7. - NASA/RP-1358
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