Discussing a Problem and Analyzing Solutions by Developing an Objectives Tree
OBERT TINONETSANA, Lecturer, Zimbabwe
You can use 'problem cards'. These cards are supposed to be ranked for priority. The key question for ranking is: which of these problems is the core problem, the problem that creates many other problems and has the most important effects on the lives of the participants. The core problem is placed central on the board.
- Subsequently, the participants are asked for each pair of cards with problems:
1. Are these two cards causes of the core problem or consequences of the core problem or independent issues?
2. Is problem A the cause of problem B or is problem B the cause of problem A?
- By doing so, the problem cards are arranged in the form of a tree, with the consequences of the core problem at the top and the factors underlying the core problem below it. Secondary trees may form around other key problems unrelated with the selected core problem.
- The participants are asked to focus on the core problem and requested to see whether all important causes of the core problem are included in the tree. Additional causes mentioned are added. The procedure is repeated for the consequences of the core problem.
- The result gives an overall image of the problems listed by the participants in relation to one another.
- The construction of a problem tree is useful because it shows cause-effect relationships and provides a basis for discussion on which problems have to be dealt with in order to solve the core problems and to which extend these can be influenced by the participants themselves.
- Comparison of problems trees by subgroups of female respectively male participants may reveal substantial differences in perspectives if men and women regarding the core problems, their causes and their consequences and form a basis for further reflection.
- In the design stage the problem tree(s) can be converted into an objective tree. To this effect, each card in the problem tree is reformulated in terms of an improvement desired. The desired improvements or changes are written down on cards (one change per card).