Mark Seymour - Reference and Resources

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Problem Tree Analysis and Objective Setting

Problem tree analysis is used to identify the causes and effects of a problem by examining and structuring the issues surrounding it. This analysis is often used as a planning tool to help identify the aim and objectives for a sustainable development project.

Stage 1

The members of a stakeholder focus group write down the issues on separate pieces of paper. The group then discusses the issues, removes any that are not significant and consolidates others together so that a focussed set of issues remains.

Problem Tree Analysis Stage 1

Stage 2

The next stage in the process is to sort the issues into causes and effects. The group builds a tree structure, with causes at the bottom and effects at the top.

It is also typical, but not essential, to identify one of the issues in the middle of the tree as the core issue.

Problem Tree Analysis Stage 2

Stage 3

Problem tree analysis can be used to define the aim and objectives for a project. For example, the aim of the project could be to solve the core issue with the objectives tackling the root causes.

Aim  Profitability is increased because fruit is no longer damaged at point of sale.
  •  Packaging redesigned so that it does not break during transit.
  • Fruit packers use the packaging correctly.
  • Potential for damage to fruit during transport is minimised.