The Psychology of Quality and More

| Menu | Books | Share | Search | Settings |

A Toolbook for Quality Improvement and Problem Solving (contents)

Cause-Effect Diagram: Practical variations

The Quality Toolbook > Cause-Effect Diagram > Practical variations

When to use it | How to understand it | Example | How to do it | Practical variations


<-- Previous | Next -->

Practical variations

  • Add 'mini' Cause-Effect Diagrams at each point along a Flowchart or any other relevant diagram, to identify potential problems, as in Fig. 1. This can also be done in a Force-Field Diagram.




  • Do it in two stages. First ask 'What could be a cause?', identifying all cause areas (e.g. under 'machines' this could be car, phone, computer, etc.), then ask 'How could it cause problems?' to find possible causes in each of these areas (e.g. under 'phone' could be 'no visual communication', 'interrupts other activities', etc.). This is a rigorous approach that will result in a very dense diagram, but which may help to find unexpected causes.
  • Write down all causes in a simple list before building the chart. An Affinity Diagram can then be used to organize the causes, to help find the main cause areas.
  • Differentiate cause areas from actual causes, for example by circling or underlining them.
  • Start with a fairly quick pass at identifying causes, select key causes from these, and then to home in on these key causes, tracking back to root causes. This can speed up the process, but can also result in other causes being missed.
  • The 'four Ms' are sometimes called the 'four Ps' which are People, Process, Product and Plant. Common additional major cause areas include Programs, Policy, Plans, Environment, Maintenance, Management, Money, Measurement.
  • Indicate differing confidence in causes, for example, where there is a mixture of measured, unmeasured and speculative causes, show the difference by putting a box around measured causes and underlining unmeasured causes.
  • Start with a desired effect, and determine what must be done to cause it.
  • Start with an effect on the left of the page and determine the possible knock-on effects, as in Fig. 2.
  • Start with an effect in the middle of the page and expand its causes to the left, and its knock-on effects to the right.



Fig. 2. Showing possible knock-on effects



<-- Previous | Next -->

Site Menu

| Home | Top | Settings |

Quality: | Quality Toolbook | Tools of the Trade | Improvement Encyclopedia | Quality Articles | Being Creative | Being Persuasive |

And: | C Style (Book) | Stories | Articles | Bookstore | My Photos | About | Contact |

Settings: | Computer layout | Mobile layout | Small font | Medium font | Large font | Translate |


You can buy books here

More Kindle books:

And the big
paperback book

Look inside


Please help and share:


| Home | Top | Menu |

© Changing Works 2002-
Massive Content -- Maximum Speed