WHEN YOU FIRST glance at a tree in a forest, you rarely focus on its distinct parts. It’s uncommon to consider the invisible roots that sustain it, or spend time scrutinizing every limb and leaf. The same is often true of the design problems you are asked to address; you grasp the general situation but don’t immediately separate out the problem from its causes and effects. If you study the root of a problem and recognize its branching effects, you set the conditions for effectively framing the issues and finding meaningful solutions.
Problem Tree Analysis provides a template for mapping causes and effects in order to better understand the chain of connected circumstances that led to the current situation. Using the tree as a metaphor, you separate the causes (roots) from the effects (branches) of a central issue (trunk). It provides a structured way for your team to reveal concerns, discern causes from symptoms, and potentially frame problem statements in a new and better way.