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Developing Problem Tree &
      Solution Tree
www.evaluationtoolbox.net.au
What is a Problem Tree?

A problem tree provides an overview of all the
known causes and effects to an identified
problem.
Why do a Problem Tree
There are often more than one cause to a
problem, and you may not be able to
overcome them all, so it is important to know
if this will impact your project.

A problem tree identifies the context in which
an intervention is to occur, and starts to reveal
the complexity of life.
The Process
A problem tree is best completed with the
project proponent and other stakeholders
present.

You may need anything from a couple of
hours, to half a day or more depending on the
complexity of your problem and the diversity
of stakeholders present.
Steps to undertaking a problem tree

 1.   Settle on the core problem
 2.   Identify the causes and effects
 3.   Develop a solution tree
 4.   Select the preferred intervention
What does a Problem Tree look like?
The Core Problem
A project should have a specific problem (eg.
saving water inside the home) that it seeks to
overcome if change is to occur.

A vague or broad problem (eg. saving water)
will have too many causes for an effective and
meaningful project to be developed.
Identifying the causes and effects
  The core problem is placed at the centre of
  the tree.

     You then need to consider the direct causes to
     the problem. These are placed below the core
     problem. Each cause statement needs to be
OUTPUTS
     written in negative terms.
Financial incentives
provided to
households direct effects of the problem are placed
     The
  above the core problem.
Identifying the causes and effects
   You then need to consider the causes to the
   immediate causes- these are called secondary
   causes, and so on. You can do the same for
   the effects.

     You will likely need to move causes around, as
OUTPUTS
Financial incentives
     you decide whether they are a
provided to
     primary, secondary or other cause.
households
Lets look at an example
Project
designs do
not consider
the full
context.


               There are
               not enough
                            An example of a core
               problem      problem
               trees
               conducted.
There are
                not enough
                                An example of a core
                problem         problem
                trees
                conducted.

People do not     People do
know what a       not know              Lets look at some
problem tree      how to do a           causes…
is.               problem
                  tree.
There are
                 not enough
                                        An example of a core
                 problem                problem
                 trees
                 conducted.

People do not        People do
know what a          not know                     Lets look at some
problem tree         how to do a                  causes…
is.                  problem
                     tree.


                There are          Resources
                no easily          are too hard
                accessible         to
                resources.         understand.
Project
    designs do
    not consider                       And now the effects
    the full
    context.


                   There are
                   not enough
                                        An example of a core
                   problem              problem
                   trees
                   conducted.

People do not        People do
know what a          not know                     Lets look at some
problem tree         how to do a                  causes…
is.                  problem
                     tree.


                There are          Resources
                no easily          are too hard
                accessible         to
                resources.         understand.
An example of a completed problem
               tree
Develop a solution tree
   A solution (also called objectives) tree is
  developed by reversing the negative
  statements that form the problem tree into
  positive ones.

      For example, a cause (problem tree) such as
      “lack of knowledge” would become a means
OUTPUTS
Financial incentives
      such as “increased knowledge”. The objectives
provided to
households demonstrates the means-end relationship
      tree
      between objectives.
An example of a completed solution
               tree
Select the preferred intervention
This step is designed to allow the project team
to select and focus an intervention on a
preferred strategy.

The solution tree may present a number of
separate or linked interventions to solve a
problem. Depending on project
funding, time, and relevance, a planned
intervention may not be able to tackle all the
causes.
An example of selecting a preferred
          intervention
Select the preferred intervention
If all the causes cannot be overcome by a
project, or complementary projects, it is
important to identify if any of the branches
are more influential than others in solving a
problem. This may impact on the success of
your project.

You can also consider the impact of other
branches in your monitoring and evaluation.
Using the solution tree to inform your
            project design
                                     The effects become your
 Effects        Effects
                                     intermediate and long
     Effects         Effects         term outcomes
                 Core
                                     The core can become
                                     your project goal or
        Cause             Cause
                                     immediate outcome
    Cause                    Cause
                                      The causes/solutions
Cause       Cause                     become your activities
                                      and objectives
Next Step
Now that you have a problem/solution
tree, you can go on to develop a LogFrame
matrix, or a Program Logic.
www.evaluationtoolbox.net.au

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Developing a problem tree

  • 1. Developing Problem Tree & Solution Tree
  • 3. What is a Problem Tree? A problem tree provides an overview of all the known causes and effects to an identified problem.
  • 4. Why do a Problem Tree There are often more than one cause to a problem, and you may not be able to overcome them all, so it is important to know if this will impact your project. A problem tree identifies the context in which an intervention is to occur, and starts to reveal the complexity of life.
  • 5. The Process A problem tree is best completed with the project proponent and other stakeholders present. You may need anything from a couple of hours, to half a day or more depending on the complexity of your problem and the diversity of stakeholders present.
  • 6. Steps to undertaking a problem tree 1. Settle on the core problem 2. Identify the causes and effects 3. Develop a solution tree 4. Select the preferred intervention
  • 7. What does a Problem Tree look like?
  • 8. The Core Problem A project should have a specific problem (eg. saving water inside the home) that it seeks to overcome if change is to occur. A vague or broad problem (eg. saving water) will have too many causes for an effective and meaningful project to be developed.
  • 9. Identifying the causes and effects The core problem is placed at the centre of the tree. You then need to consider the direct causes to the problem. These are placed below the core problem. Each cause statement needs to be OUTPUTS written in negative terms. Financial incentives provided to households direct effects of the problem are placed The above the core problem.
  • 10. Identifying the causes and effects You then need to consider the causes to the immediate causes- these are called secondary causes, and so on. You can do the same for the effects. You will likely need to move causes around, as OUTPUTS Financial incentives you decide whether they are a provided to primary, secondary or other cause. households
  • 11. Lets look at an example
  • 12. Project designs do not consider the full context. There are not enough An example of a core problem problem trees conducted.
  • 13. There are not enough An example of a core problem problem trees conducted. People do not People do know what a not know Lets look at some problem tree how to do a causes… is. problem tree.
  • 14. There are not enough An example of a core problem problem trees conducted. People do not People do know what a not know Lets look at some problem tree how to do a causes… is. problem tree. There are Resources no easily are too hard accessible to resources. understand.
  • 15. Project designs do not consider And now the effects the full context. There are not enough An example of a core problem problem trees conducted. People do not People do know what a not know Lets look at some problem tree how to do a causes… is. problem tree. There are Resources no easily are too hard accessible to resources. understand.
  • 16. An example of a completed problem tree
  • 17. Develop a solution tree A solution (also called objectives) tree is developed by reversing the negative statements that form the problem tree into positive ones. For example, a cause (problem tree) such as “lack of knowledge” would become a means OUTPUTS Financial incentives such as “increased knowledge”. The objectives provided to households demonstrates the means-end relationship tree between objectives.
  • 18. An example of a completed solution tree
  • 19. Select the preferred intervention This step is designed to allow the project team to select and focus an intervention on a preferred strategy. The solution tree may present a number of separate or linked interventions to solve a problem. Depending on project funding, time, and relevance, a planned intervention may not be able to tackle all the causes.
  • 20. An example of selecting a preferred intervention
  • 21. Select the preferred intervention If all the causes cannot be overcome by a project, or complementary projects, it is important to identify if any of the branches are more influential than others in solving a problem. This may impact on the success of your project. You can also consider the impact of other branches in your monitoring and evaluation.
  • 22. Using the solution tree to inform your project design The effects become your Effects Effects intermediate and long Effects Effects term outcomes Core The core can become your project goal or Cause Cause immediate outcome Cause Cause The causes/solutions Cause Cause become your activities and objectives
  • 23. Next Step Now that you have a problem/solution tree, you can go on to develop a LogFrame matrix, or a Program Logic.