Problem Trees

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Identification
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Level of process: 
Method
Method category: 
Intent or purpose: 
To enable a group to consider and build relationships among all of the relevant detail when defining a shared problem or challenge
Used as component of: 
Problem solving, strategic planning
Types of Participants: 
Recommended size of group: 
11-25
unknown
Remarks about group size: 
This could be done with a smaller group.
Optimal amount of time needed: 
90 minutes
Howto
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Type of Facilitator-Client Relationship: 
Level of Difficulty to Facilitate: 
Facilitation skills required
Facilitator Personality Fit: 
Setting and Materials: 
Flipchart paper, markers and enough room to post a number of sheets
Resources Needed: 
Pre-Work Required: 
Procedures: 

Process:
1. Divide the group into mixed teams, who share diverse perspectives on the issue at hand

2. Provide flipchart paper and markers. Ask each team to draw a tree in which the trunk represents the problem itself, the roots list the causes of the problem and the branches are the effects of the problem.

3. When everyone is ready, give the group time to view one another’s trees. You may wish to have teams present their trees.

4. Based on what the group has seen, reflect together on the issues, capturing people’s responses:
a. Let’s look first at the causes. What were causes you saw very frequently in our tree roots? What was a unique cause you saw that you hadn’t considered before?
b. And now the effects: what were effects that you saw repeatedly? What were effects that struck you, although you may not have seen them often?
c. How would you define our problem now? (what’s the true name of this tree?) What are we dealing with here?
d. What you say are the next steps in our work on this matter?

How flexible is the process?: 
Follow-Up Required: 
Background
Developer: 
Adapted from the Impact Alliance
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References: 
www.impactalliance.com
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