11 Aug 2012

Mindmapping problem/solution trees

Often fairly simple problem statements are used in planning and project documents. The truth is in most cases complex - multiple individuals, groups and organisations are involved and have their own interests. Then there are historical aspects and traditions, external factors, and so on. It might be helpful to break-down, and thereby detail, the elements relating to a core problem and its effects and convert these into solutions. Having this overview helps to get insight into the complexity and take informed decisions on where to take action. It also helps to check and monitor if enough causes  are tackled to result in successful, lasting solutions. Another advantage is that it can help to create the project approach and planning, especially project objectives.


1. Identify the core problem, this may require some discussion
2. Think of existing issues (causes) contributing to this core problem and their underlying causes. Write them down in negative form e.g. lack of ...
3. Detail the effects of these problems. Check every problem on the sheet and add missing effects (ask the question: so what?)
4. Check if the overview (see below) makes sense; are the cause-effect relationships logical and complete?

5. Rephrase the causes, core problem and effects into solutions (convert negative into positively stated form)
6. Check again: does the the new 'means-ends' relationships make sense? Change or add elements (even causes and effects) where needed
7. Decide where to take action to have the best chance to solve the core problem.
8. The solutions can be rephrased into project objectives and help to determine indicators i.e. to measure impact and proof of a successful approach.

Mindmap templates

What I particularly like about this approach is it's logical flow in a mindmapping fashion. Both images are available as templates in MindJet Mindmanager format: problem tree and solution tree.

1 comment:

Json Yan said...

I've been looking for something like this...Many thanks!