Diagramming a problem


Diagramming the multiple causes of the problem—social, economic, environmental—can help to clarify their relative importance.


  • Start by identifying the adverse social, environmental, economic, or organizational
    impact that the group hopes to change. Put it on the right side of a large piece of
  • To the left of the “impact” ask the group to list the direct “threats” or causes
    contributing to the problem/impact; draw arrows to the “impact.”
  • Identify and list “indirect” threats or activities that influence the direct threats.
  • Identify and diagram other contributing factors.
  • Discuss the arrangement of direct, indirect, and contributing factors until the resulting
    diagram reflects the consensus view of the group.

In Practice

View problem diagram

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