Problem Analysis Tree

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Description of Problem Analysis Tree. Explanation.

 

Problem Analysis Tree

Definition Problem Analysis Tree. Description.


Problem Analysis Tree is is a project planning tool that helps to graphically break down problems into smaller, manageable parts.


The Problem Analysis Tree, also known as Situational Analysis or Problem Analysis, is a project planning method used primarily in Project Management. It derived from a combination of a family tree with a Mind Mapping diagram. Its goal is to break up a problem into parts; starting from the core problem and descending till creating a family tree structure of the problem itself. In this way, problems appear to be smaller, simpler and more manageable.


By breaking down the problem it is possible to track the Root Cause of a problem and it becomes simpler to jump to viable solutions by Mapping the Cause and Effect relationships of a defined issue.


The Problem Tree Analysis belongs to the family of participatory planning techniques, and for that reason it requires a strong involvement of all members attending the exercise. Beside the analysis of the situation or a problem, one of the most fundamental aims of such techniques consists of creating a sense of ownership and commitment among the attendees. A best practice to carry out a Problem Analysis Tree exercise is to gather a Focus Group of 5-10 people and stress the teamwork during the problem setting, problem analysis and objective setting.


A Problem Analysis workshop consist of a 4 step process:

  1. Define the problem, issue or object of the analysis with a group Brainstorm. Initially, it may seem a broad issue, but the tool itself will help to break it down. Once the problem is defined, write it down at the centre of a board or big sheet of paper. It will represent the trunk of the tree, in other words the core problem.

  2. Identify the causes of the core problem. This will be best done individually or in pairs using written notes. The causes will be represented as the roots of the tree.

  3. Identify the consequences of the problem. They will constitute the branches of the tree. At this stage it is possible to draw a chart of the Problem Tree Analysis.

  4. Discuss and reason about causes and consequences of the core problem. At this stage, Force Field Analysis could be a relevant tool in order to achieve better results. This is the heart of the whole process, so allow plenty of time for debate and let all participants express their feelings and ideas.

Take notes of the most interesting ideas on 3 charts, which are titled: Solutions, Concerns and Decisions. Use the 3 titled charts to develop a plan of actions.


The main advantages of using the Problem Tree Analysis as a problem analysis and solving tool are:

  1. Increased information about the analyzed issue. This constitutes a solid base to develop solutions.

  2. The breakdown of a problem into causes and consequences allows to prioritize factors and set precise objectives.

  3. A shared view of a certain issue is developed among a multi-perspective group. This is a an excellent starting point to further develop viable Strategic Options to best face an issue.

The Problem Tree is strongly linked to, and can be easily converted into or combined with, the Objective Tree Analysis. It is often said that if there where no people there where no problems. Therefore an interesting tool that can be used prior to the identification of a problem to map involved people and their interests is the Stakeholder Analysis. Outcomes of a Problem Analysis Tree can be included in the Project Planning Matrix.


Compare also: Pyramid Principle (Minto)


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