Cause and Effect Analysis

Cause and Effect Analysis - ToolsHero

This article provides you with a practical explanation of the Cause and Effect Analysis. After reading, you will understand the basics of this powerful problem analysis tool.
What is a Cause and Effect Analysis?
Each organisation has its own problems, big and small. A problem within an organisation can be either a chance to grow, or a setback that leads to failure. Which of the two it ends up being depends on how the problem is solved. An effective method to prevent undesirable outcomes is to conduct a proper analysis of the situation, establish the causes of the problem, and subsequently developing a fitting solution for the situation.

For a Cause and Effect Analysis, the analyst sums up and analyses all the potential causes and effects of the identified problem, after which the analyst generates and sorts through various hypotheses about the problem's potential causes. The most frequently used methods to process and draw connections between large amounts of information involve the use of cause-and-effect diagrams.

Cause and Effect Analyses enable problem solvers to broaden their minds, and to look at the bigger picture with regards to the problem. Aside from reflecting the causes standing in the way of the desired outcome, cause-and-effect diagrams can also be used to map out the necessary factors for achieving this desired outcome.
Two tools for Cause and Effect Analysis
Fishbone diagram
In the '60s of the last century, professor Kaoru Ishikawa, a pioneer in the field of quality management, developed his cause and effect analysis. This analysis is also known as the Ishikawa diagram, Ishikawa, or Fishbone diagram.

It is called that because of the resemblance of the finished diagram to a fish bone. The diagram was initially used for quality improvement, but soon proved a highly effective problem analysis tool as well, used to analyse the causes of impediments within corporate processes, as well as potential way to improve these processes.

The Cause and Effect Analysis entails two important steps which enable the problem solver to both look back and ahead in time. In looking back, the analysis is geared towards identifying the areas where mistakes were made, or money was lost. This is how the diagram helps understand what happened before. By establishing the causes of the problem, the problem solver is able to work towards swiftly solving, or entirely avoiding, future instances of it.

When looking ahead, the analysis attempts to find w...

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