Refocusing discussion on outcomes


Some individuals/groups are inclined to focus on problem causes. Because a focus on causes can become a discussion of “villains,” re-focusing the discussion on impacts clarifies the emphasis.


  • Ask stakeholders who or what is impacted by the problem.
  • Ask stakeholders how the problem is manifest and what the symptoms or indicators
  • Repeat until there is agreement on impacts rather than on causes.
  • Once there is agreement about impacts, work with groups to identify single or multiple
    causes and, if possible, assess the relative influence of each causal factor.

In Practice

A community forum focusing on coastal problems generated thoughts such as “too many tourists.” When pressed about what it was about too many tourists that resulted in adverse impacts, respondents said they couldn’t find parking at their favorite swimming/fishing sites. Subsequent discussion led the group to re-focus on “inadequate coastal access in some coastal areas, including parking.”

About Strategies

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