Have this tool in your back pocket at all times (ready to go).  When a problem pops up, or if you need to analyze an issue or risk, use the Cause & Effect Tool (also known as Fishbone, or Ishikawa - different names, same tool). Use the acronym 5MPET to help you remember the categories.

A definition of the Cause and effect diagram can include: provides a formalized, structured method to identify potential variations or issues that exist or could occur.  Can be utilized to identify the causes (why is this happening) or can be focused on identifying the effects (what will happen) or a combination of the two. The Categories utilized should be “trigger” words that promote focus on certain areas and when all Categories are completed (worked through), together they cover almost all aspects of a project. Popular categories include:
  • Mother Nature
  • Measurement
  • Method
  • Material
  • Machine
  • People
  • Energy 
  • Time 
NOTE: remember the acronym 5MPET

This type of flowchart tool is valuable for brainstorming, analysis, planning, decision making, presentations, risk management, team building and buy-in, etc. This tool is very good to help focus the work and is quick and easy to use. If in an office environment, then draw out the tool if possible since graphical representations show relationships differently then just verbal and will lead to greater effectiveness and efficiency. 

An example diagram is included below, illustrating the 8 categories and 3 events on the ‘Machine’ sub arrow-line:


Example: if you asked a group of people the question..... 
Q - What happened, why did the breakdown occur?  
Chances are you will get a wide variety of answers and the efficiency of brainstorming is "all over the place". The response of the group could also be in a state of panic and anxiety that the obstacles are too vast, complicated and dis-connected.  

WHEREAS, if you use this tool, you would ask the question....
Q - What happened with the breakdown but please only focus your answers on the category of Mother Nature?
Also state that for 10 minutes, we will only talk about things related to Mother Nature.  If other comments come up that are related to another category, then put them on the "Parking Lot" (write it down somewhere for a later time) and then get right back to the Mother Nature focus.  Also state that the other categories will be visited and addressed but the process is to work in sequence (address each category individually and not at the same time).
Chances are you will get much more focus, efficiency, less panic, better collaboration, better detail, faster detail, etc.

Listed below is a good link that also further defines this tool: