Problem tree

Problem tree

Diagram that maps problems and locates issues according to relations of cause and effect, activating discussion and identifying the issues which require strategic intervention.

Download the manual for using the tool with tips and instructions.

For a theoretical study click here.

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Indications emerged from the DRLab experience for the use of the tool.

Instructions for completing the form

Premise: Start with those problems that the working group knows well.

1. Write the project title and the reference systems that is analyzed with the tool.

2. List the main problems identified in the reference system, noting their definition in the central row. Note the least sustainable problems on the left, along with the apparently unmanageable problems and those dependent on an external force; on the right put those problems perceived as more sustainable.

3. Starting from the central row, note below the causes of the main problems already identified, putting them on two levels according to the dynamics of cause and effect. A note of warning: it’s useful to use post-its at this point so you can move the problems around adapting them to the dynamics of cause and effect in accordance with the development of your reflections.

4. Beginning with the central row, note above the effects and consequences of the main problems already identified, organizing them on two levels according to the dynamics of cause and effect. Again, it’s advisable to use post-its to adapts the words to the dynamics.

N.B. Using post-its helps the development of mapping by making our understanding of the problems practicable and modifiable, both in terms of the where they belong in terms of causes rather than effects, as well as their level of sustainability and potential solutions.

N.B. When you known the effects of a problem that has still not been entirely defined, it can be useful to use the tool by starting from the effect rows and slowly moving downwards – always according to a logic of cause and effect – while trying to identify the causes of those effects. After this operation you can then identify the problem in the central row more precisely, and understand how sustainable is the problem.

Download the manual for using the tool. Inside you’ll find an introduction, instructions for completing it independently, some practical tips, the template (A3 format) and an example of how to fill it out. Here you can also download only the template in A3 and A1 formats.

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