When considering a project, there often will be great concerns to avoid missing anything in the evaluation or execution of that project.
“A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse.” ~ William Shakespeare in Richard III
These concerns over not missing any large or small details are the reasons consultants and experts are hired. They are why checklists (of which I am a fan) are created and expanded. They are why tools, like implementation methodologies, are developed and used.
“For want of a nail… the battle was lost.” ~ proverb
These are all seen as methods of helping us identify how we will get from “here to there” successfully and not miss the need of a horse or a horseshoe nail.
Small Details Make or Break the Biggest Plans
The famous proverb and related famous line from Shakespeare remind us it is the simplest or smallest of overlooked items that can derail or disrupt the grandest of plans.
So, what if the right resources are not available to you?
Or, what if the tools you have are not quite as thorough?
Or, if your experts are not quite as expert?
How can you move forward on a necessary project and not get bogged down with such concern about the risk of poor outcome that you just don’t move forward?
Remembering the Nail with the Fishbone Diagram
In the quality body of knowledge, there are a number of tools typically used for analysis. These help identify opportunities for process improvement or for investigating root causes of problems or errors.
Many of those tools can also be used to help locate and identify dependencies or critical tasks required to successfully complete a project in an unfamiliar function. They also help define necessary processing steps to support a completely new activity.
The Fishbone Diagram to Avoid Missing Horses & Nails
This has many names and variants but one objective… to help you and your teams define the horse, the saddle, the horseshoe and yes, even the nail that may be necessary for a successful outcome.
Brain experts tell us we problem solve two ways:
- Logical algorithms, which is a slow, but get it correct, way.
- Heuristically, which is the inspired quick way to get to a conclusion.
The fish bone diagram helps our brains do both.
It organizes our thinking around key factors affecting a project or process. It also allows us to categorize our inspiration so that we can organize our actions and then use other tools like resource planning matrices or PERT and CPM charts to more fully plan and control actions.
A fishbone diagram as a blank layout offers groups of categories for the team to focus on as they generate ideas about what resources or tasks are necessary for a given project.
The purpose of the diagram is not to create the final process flow, as that is a different tool, but rather to try and accumulate all of the factors or concerns that might need to be addressed or resourced in order to complete a given project.
This structured method of brainstorming is particularly useful for working with a group where different functions are represented as it gives individuals equality of participation.
It is also very useful when a team is confronted with an unfamiliar challenge or goal as it allows for a broad range of suggestions but still filters applicability based on the final goal.
If you are interested in a Fishbone Diagram template you can download one here.
We also provide an example of how to populate this diagram if your project is a software upgrade.