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“Fish-Funnel” or the evolution of the Ishikawa diagram

13 November, 2019

Our starting point will be the cause-effect diagram, also known as the Ishikawa diagram or fish diagram due to it’s shape that was developed in 1943 by Kaoru Ishikawa to synthesize the opinions of his team of engineers when discussing the problems of industrial quality.

This dynamic is a technic to analyze the causes and effects of a particular problem so that we obtain a graphic representation of the situation in a way that makes it easier to analyze by parts and search for solutions through the decomposition of the problem.

The result of the Ishikawa diagram has a shape reminiscent of a fishbone (is were it got it’s artistic name better known as “fish diagram”) and is used as a creative technique in many projects as it can be applied to:

  • Identify the causes of the problem
  • Visualize in detail the main and secondary causes of the problem
  • Reflect cause-effect actions in processes and identify solutions
  • Detect friction points and improvements
  • Promote teamwork in the search for actions that increase quality
  • Show the level of knowledge about a given problem
  • Obtain a global and structured vision to work on improvement points
  • Anticipate and control problems throughout the process and not only at the end
  • Modify procedures, methods, customs, attitudes or habits with simple solutions
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When it comes to getting to work and applying the technique of the Ishikawa diagram, the steps to follow are:

  1. Draw on a canvas a thorn and head of a fish, with enough space to make notes between them
  2. Specify the problem to analyze and write it down on the fish’s head (it will be your goal).
  3. Do a brainstorming to detect the main causes that can cause the problem we want to analyze and write them on the top of each spine (the number of spines will depend on the number of causes or motives that are detected). It can help you when it comes to detecting main causes to ask you the questions who? than? where? when? how? how much?
  4. For each of these causes ask the question of why? between two and five times until you find several answers.
  5. Write down the answers within each spine.
  6. Make a global review to test the validity of the cause-effect sequence starting from the root to verify that it makes logical sense.
  7. If at the end, you have a spine with few causes compared to the rest, you have to analyze that spine in depth so that it has its own fish diagram.

An important note is that before starting to work the diagram you must analyze the real data of the problem that are available such as surveys, customer or user feedback, metrics, etc.

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So far I have not told you anything new, I have simply made a synthesis of what is the Ishikawa diagram or fish diagram. Well, in some of my previous posts I recommend you to take a technique, analyze it until you understand it to the fullest, break it and evolve it, only then we will find new creative ways to continue creating.

For me a Fish-Funnel is the evolution that, as designers of experiences, products and services, we see as more natural. In the end we analyze and generate experiences and for this the Fish-Funnel will help us.

María Renilla
PMO & Research Manager

What is the Fish-Funnel?

The Fish-Funnel has no other objective than to work together with our clients or our users, such as the funnel for converting a product or service regardless of whether it is online or offline.

Its objective shares the purpose of the Ishikawa diagram or fish diagram, to obtain a photo of the current situation, but in this case it will not be the causes of a problem but of the steps, touch points and moments of truth that are found by each of our users (previously defined archetypes) until they achieve their goal (conversion).

Now you may ask, but Maria, isn’t that a customer journey? Yes and no, yes because we will go through each of the stages through which our users go through detecting frictions, opportunities, etc. and no, because we will go one step further, we will also work the microconversions that our client (business) will be able to measure in each of these stages, so our value proposition will be enriched since we will take into account the needs of our users and combine it with the generation of conversions for the business.

How is this dynamic carried out?

The process is very similar to the process of the original technique, the difference lies in the objectives that we are setting ourselves as researchers and strategists, so that the ability of a good dynamizer will be essential to guarantee the success of the technique.

Steps to follow:

  1. Draw the fish-funnel (we will draw one for each archetype).
  2. Our goal will be the conversion in this case, whether it is to make an online purchase, physical purchase, subscription to a newsletter, download an app or increase the average basket through specific products (keep in mind that depending on the archetype the goal may vary).
  3. With your users define the steps that each archetype follows until you reach your goal.
  4. Once the goals are defined, let the users talk, what happens at each stage, what problems are encountered, what needs, what they would like to have to make each step easier.
  5. Have users participate, let them be the ones who agree and write down all this information within each spine.
  6. Make a global review to test the validity of the cause-effect sequence starting from the root to verify that it makes logical sense.
  7. Now it is necessary to prioritize the importance of the secondary, generate a debate among the attendees so that through a voting system (red, yellow and green stickers) they define what is most relevant, what would it be better to solve or have ,and what they consider expendable.
  8. Finally, make a global review of the steps and the priorities established lively and begin the work of analysis and strategy by the team.

The results obtained when using this dynamic are very interesting and easy to understand since the visual exercise helps non-expert users to understand the relevance of each stage that a user goes through when interacting with their business.

foto pequeña

Each teacher has his booklet and each of you can evolve this proposal, one of the tricks that I use when detecting conversions (microconversions) in stages is to create a chromatic range with markers and post-its of different colors that help me perform the analysis and explanation of my findings more easily.

(Conversions in fuchsia, friction points in red, moments of truth in green, functionalities detected as needs in orange … for tastes, colors).

I hope it helps you and I will be delighted to discuss this dynamic with you and resolve any questions you may have.

Investigate, investigate, investigate damn!!!

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PMO & Research Manager

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