Fishbone: The Good, the Bad and the…
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly implies the Solution, the Problem and its Causes (Root Cause Analysis).
Root Cause Analysis is a problem-solving technique that describes the Cause and Effect relationship of a problem and allows a focus on the causes (symptoms). This approach breaks down a Big Problem into tiny chunks that can then be resolved iteratively (Scrum).
The thought behind this approach is that:
“If you can cure all the symptoms of a sickness, you will most likely cure the sickness.”
My favourite RCA technique is the Ishikawa Fish Diagram (Cause-Effect Diagram) which contains 5 categories: Methods, Machine, Management, Materials and Manpower. However, for this explanation, I prefer to use People, Process, Input, Policy and Machine, as shown below:
HOW TO APPLY THE APPROACH:
In an instance where there are complaints about the Claims Process of an Insurance company. To solve this problem using RCA (Ishikawa Fish Diagram), you would need to classify all identified causes of the problem, in a manner like below. This, of course, should be done after you must have performed the required Requirements Elicitation process.
1) People: how internal and external individuals cause the problem: e.g. Customers not being honest about claims, which leads to time spent investigating the claim, only to reject the claim.
2) Process: how the mundane/cumbersome tasks/processes cause the problem: e.g: the claims process consisting of unnecessary and obsolete tasks that waste time.
3) Input: how data capturing and transfer cause the problem:e.g. customers send hardcopy letters for claims, which means staff have to scan the letters or perform manual data entry.
4) Policy: how management and senior decisions cause the problem, due to their poor decision making or lack of foresight: e.g. asking staff to perform the Claims Process within an unreasonable amount of time.
5) Machine: how software or the lack of, can cause the problem: e.g. the non-existence of an online Claims forms which would eradicate manual data entry and save staff time performing such mundane tasks.
Once the causes of the EFFECT (Problems with Claims Process) have been identified, it becomes easier to prioritize the causes and implement a project to solve each cause in phases, which as a result, solves the bigger problem.
The Fishbone Diagram approach is a great method of identifying symptoms of a problem, because it promotes interaction between stakeholders, allows for grouping into categories that can be focused on, leads to a prioritisation of causes according to stakeholder pain-points and captures all the problems in 1 Picture (for easy communication).
This method provides the best solution to a problem while incurring little or no technical debt. Due to this, this problem-solving approach is promoted by Six Sigma as an efficient way to provide a solution.